Huawei Denies Involvement in US Cyber-Attacks

by Matt Klassen on May 10, 2013

In early October, 2012, the US House Intelligence Committee went public with its suspicions over Chinese telecommunication hardware companies ZTE and Huawei, accusing both of “posing a national security threat” and discouraging American businesses from buying their equipment. The underlying concern: that both companies coule use their telecommunications equipment to covertly collect intelligence on US government and private sector activities for the Chinese government.

At the time ZTE was quick to respond, denying any involvement in government ordered cyber-terrorism and explaining that American concerns about the effects of ‘state influence’ on the company were something that could be applied to every Chinese company in existence. But fellow accused state-influenced cyber threat Huawei remained silent…until now that is.

Breaking a cone of silence that has largely remained in place for the company’s entire 26 year existence, company founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei spoke to the media this week, lifting his self-imposed gag order to defend his company against the accusations that it continues to be a Chinese front for cyber-attacks. His defence: How could Huawei be using its equipment to spy on anyone in America, given that the company has almost no presence in the US telecom market?

“Huawei has no connection to the cyber-security issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future,” Ren, 68, told local reporters in New Zealand, where Reuters reports Huawei has won contracts to build 4G LTE and ultra-fast broadband networks. “Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the U.S.We have never sold any key equipment to major U.S. carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any U.S. government agency,” Ren said.

With almost no presence in American telecommunications networks, and no contracts with any major US carriers, one has to wonder what is really fuelling the growing suspicion in the US over both Huawei and ZTE. While I will admit that Ren’s avoidance of the media likely has not helped his cause, I would hope that the US Intelligence Committee would have based its damning warning against dealing with Huawei on more than the CEO’s penchant for being a recluse.

So what is the real motivation behind these smear campaigns against ZTE and Huawei? It certainly can’t be based on either companies’ operations in other countries, because not only do other major telecommunications markets like Canada and Australia avoid employing these companies’ products in their networks as well, the countries that do contract with Huawei and ZTE have said, well, nothing about security concerns, threats, or actual cyber-attacks stemming for either telecom firm.

Perhaps the growing fear over company’s like ZTE and Huawei is the fact that both are growing quickly in the global telecommunications market, and both are intrinsically connected to the Chinese government (but what Chinese company isn’t?), who itself has been cast as the villainous mastermind behind ongoing cyber-attacks on key American sectors.

As I’ve said before, unless there is clear evidence that either of these companies has or is poised to engage in espionage activities on behalf of China, it truly seems like many of the unjustified fears of the Cold War still remain. The situation makes even less sense when you take into account the symbiotic trade relationship America and China already have, making me wonder why very facet of Chinese involvement in the American market is not subject to the same scrutiny.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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