Huawei has criticised US President Donald Trump for being “narrow-minded” toward China’s growth in fifth-generation (5G) network technology, dismissing US security concerns over the Chinese company’s equipment as “ungrounded”.

In an interview with South Korean reporters last week, Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping said given the company’s global presence in the world telecommunications market, it would be “suicidal” for the company to implement backdoors in its equipment for espionage purposes.

Referring to US President Donald Trump’s latest remarks that the US should be a leader in the global 5G race, Guo suggested the US embrace diversity instead and acknowledge the Chinese company’s growing presence in 5G technology.

“Our equipment is being used by 170 countries around the world. It would be suicidal for us to implant backdoors,” Guo said, according to a translated transcript of the Wednesday interview with the South Korean reporters at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, southeastern China.

“I think the US has excelled in many parts around the world,” he said, referring to Trump’s assertion that the US leads in almost every industry. “But it should be more open-minded and embrace the fact that the Chinese company can be better in some areas.”

Earlier this month, Trump pledged to win the race for 5G technology amid a growing rivalry with China over the future generation of cellular technology. The White House has announced a new wireless spectrum auction intended to speed up the rollout of the 5G network.

Regarding security concerns over Huawei equipment, Guo reiterated that the company does not keep subscribers’ data from telecom firms. Describing Huawei as an equipment vendor, he said the government watchdog should be more involved in addressing the issue.

Asked about Chinese companies’ harsh working conditions, Guo said the company should keep up the pressure on its employees as it has a long way to go before catching up with other global giants.

“I wish I could get up 10am every morning and go home at 2pm. I envy those companies with abundant resources. They can earn money by digging up the land, but the same thing does not apply to us,” he said.

Guo stressed that Huawei has assumed a significant share of the Sino-Korean trade volume, with its sales to South Korean firms amounting to $10.6 billion, accounting for more than six per cent of bilateral trade, Guo said.

According to the chairman, Huawei is seeking to expand its telecom cooperation with South Korean mobile carriers for 5G network equipment. While there is no specific plan yet, Guo said it wants to move beyond its cooperation with LG Uplus.

Neither SK Telecom nor KT use Huawei technology in their 5G networks, but LG UPlus receives Huawei’s supplies. According to Huawei, the company and LG Uplus have deployed more than 10,000 5G sites across South Korea.

“SKT and KT both are important partners to Korea. If there is an opportunity, we want to provide our products to more consumers. But it’s not up to me to decide when and whether we can make it happen. It’s up to our customers,” said Guo.