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Even at the New World Cafe, which could pass for a large Starbucks with its earth tones and modern light fixtures, Chen chalks up the dispute to cultural differences. When Ren was a young man, he joined the military because that's where many of the engineering jobs were. Chairman Mao Zedong created all sorts of jobs in the military that had little to do with military infrastructure. "The people in the West, they really don't understand" the history and culture of China that led Ren to join the military, Chen said.

Instead of focusing on Ren's military background, Huawei plays up his Horatio Alger-esque story to the West, He founded Huawei in 1987 with the equivalent of $2,500 at the time to make traditional public phone switches for Chinese businesses, He seized an opening created by the Chinese government's interest in moving away from its reliance on foreign telecommunications equipment, Over the next decade, the company migrated to more sophisticated gear, including wireless equipment and began to expand slothtoro iphone case internationally..

By 1995, the company had generated annual sales of 1.5 billion renminbi, or about $236 million, business that largely came from rural China, far away from the government-run companies with which it couldn't compete. In the first six months of 2012, Huawei posted $16.1 billion in sales, a 5 percent gain in a tough telecom market. Throughout it all, Ren has remained closely involved with the business and its strategy. "Huawei is constantly shifting and if you look at the ecosystem around it, the company is still very much controlled by Ren Zhengfei," said an industry executive who has had business dealings with Ren.

While out of the public limelight, Ren is considered a charismatic figure with strong grasp for where he wants Huawei to go, He's a good storyteller, waxing on about his company's early days and the rise to power, He speaks only Mandarin and requires a translator when dealing with foreign companies and officials, "You're ready to drink the Kool-Aid when you walk out," said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "He's pretty inspirational."While Huawei has three deputy chairmen who rotate into the chief executive job every six months, Chen describes Ren as the company's "spiritual leader." Even as other executives have operational roles at slothtoro iphone case Huawei, all of the major corporate decisions about policy and strategy go before Ren..

"He still has the right to veto," Chen said. To allay concerns about Ren's influence and China's sway over Huawei, management has gone to great lengths to hire several non-Chinese into high-profile posts. The company has also built up its public relations and government relations teams in Washington, D.C. It rolled out a massive brand awareness ad campaign in the United States, gobbling up pricey commercial airtime during the Olympic games. It's released a clever video with tourists and New Yorkers in Times Square struggling to pronounce the company's name. And it's created Futurewei Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif.,-based research and development operation, owned by Huawei, with 1,000 employees, showcasing innovation that takes place outside of China.