China Demands Answers to Alleged Huawei Hacks

by Matt Klassen on March 25, 2014

Two days after the latest round of leaked NSA documents revealed the depth of America’s digital intrusion into Chinese telecom giant Huawei, the Chinese government is demanding answers, wanting a ‘clear explanation’ from Washington regarding the veracity and the motivations behind such a monumental violation.

Hong Lei, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said his country was “extremely concerned” about the spying allegations. “Recently, the international media has put out a lot of reports about the eavesdropping, surveillance and stealing of secrets by the United States of other countries, including China,” he told a regular briefing. “Chinahas already lodged many complaints with the United States about this. We demand that the United States makes a clear explanation and stop such acts.”

As I noted yesterday, these latest revelations into the NSA’s ironic and hypocritical surveillance of Huawei, coupled with the news that the American intelligence community has attempted to employ Huawei’s telecom hardware to spy on other foreign powers, is but the latest step in this ongoing digital Cold War, with both sides trying desperately to flex their muscles while avoiding any disruption to the financial relationship the two nations share.

Let me be clear, while I have long accused the American government of hypocrisy when it comes to its current treatment of Chinese telecom giant Huawei and the policies and practices of its intelligence community, that in no way means that the Chinese government is innocent in all this.

While I still have my doubts that Huawei is knowingly complicit with its government in setting up backdoors into its products and establishing itself as a front for China to spy on other foreign powers, its well documented that China works to exploit telecommunications hardware in exactly this way, the ironic thing, of cousre, is that America operates exactly the same way.

As CNET writer Don Reisinger explains, “China and the US have been waging a surreptitious cyberwar for years. Both sides have railed against the other, saying that their servers are being illegally hacked. The US allegedly hacking servers inChina, and that country’s public outrage, is therefore no surprise.”

But perhaps this time things are different, as the intensity of China’s sabre-rattling has increased exponentially. With the revelation that the NSA has been spying on Huawei China is demanding answers, a “clear explanation,” as Hong puts it, into the details behind these allegations. While the U.S. remains tight-lipped, it does seem that this Cold War has now escalated, reaching a new, certainly more serious, level.

So how will this all end? As I’ve said before, my guess is that Huawei’s involvement with the Chinese government is no deeper and just as complicit as what we heard regarding American telecom firms and the NSA, that at its worst Huawei has given the Chinese government backdoors into its network. While if true such involvement would offer some justification for the warning first issued about Huawei in 2012, it seems to offer just as strong a case against American companies operating abroad, and that could have serious deleterious consequences forAmerica’s participation in many emerging foreign tech markets.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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