Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei once recommended that his senior executives watch a TV series called "Proof of Identity." In that 2009 series, a communist spy who had infiltrated the nationalist army during China's civil war struggles for years to prove his loyalty and identity after the communists prevail.

Today, 32 years after he founded the telecom giant with US$3000 ($4522) of borrowed money, Ren is struggling to prove that Huawei is a private enterprise and independent of the Chinese government.

The task is more urgent than ever. In recent months, the Trump administration has said China could use Huawei's