Ren Zhengfei
© Reuters / Bobby Yip
The founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei has thanked the Trump administration for helping him to "promote" 5G technology in advance of an expected ban on the company operating in the US over concerns about "national security."

During an interview on CBS This Morning, Ren Zhengfei said, with a hint of sarcasm, that US officials who have been sounding warnings about 5G were "great figures" because it was helping to spread the word about the technology.

Zhengfei said that until now, 5G was not widely known about. "But now, these great figures are all talking about 5G... and we're becoming more influential and getting more contracts," he said.

"Please tell them - I'm actually thanking them for promoting us," he told host Bianna Golodrgya.

Huawei has secured 5G contracts with nearly 30 countries, but the US claims the technology could constitute a threat to national security, even warning its allies that it could reconsider its military relationships with them if they use it.

Comment: How desperate has the US become?

Former CIA acting director Michael Morell told CBS that because of its speed and ability to allow such a large data flow, 5G "enhances the capabilities of an intelligence service to steal data."

Zhengfei said those concerns were unfounded and that 5G is "not an atomic bomb" or on the same level as military equipment.

The Trump administration's stance stands in contrast to opinion in Europe, where Robert Hannigan, the former director of the UK intelligence agency GCHQ, said there was no evidence that Huawei was facilitating Beijing's spying and dismissed "hysteria" over 5G.

Italy, Germany and France have also dismissed US concerns over the technology, although Washington's dramatic warnings have been heeded by New Zealand and Australia, which have both banned Huawei from assisting in developing 5G networks.