Facing suspicion in a number of countries over its alleged ties to the Chinese government, Huawei is fighting back.
“When it comes to security, we need to let the facts speak for themselves, Huawei’s record on security is clean,” Huawei rotating chairman Ken Hu was quoted as telling reporters in China on Tuesday.
Over 30 years, the company has never had a serious cyber security issue or seen any evidence showing its equipment is a security threat, he said. “We have a solid track record,”
He said Huawei plans to launch a security centre in Brussels early next year as part of a longer-term plan to expand cooperation with other governments around the world, such as Canada and the U.K.
Hu called on governments who have banned Chinese equipment in their 5 G networks to show evidence of the alleged security threats and open up the lines of communication so it can take action.
The U.S., Australia and New Zealand — three of the countries in the Five Eyes intelligence co-operative — have forbidden carriers from installing equipment from Chinese equipment makers in their upcoming next-generation 5G wireless networks.
The other two members of the partnership, the U.K. and Canada, are studying the security of Huawei equipment for upcoming 5G networks that will be run by carriers. Note that Bell and Telus have some Huawei equipment in the access (outer) part of their 4G wireless networks, but not in their network cores. It is believed that national security agencies are worried most about gear in a carrier network’s core.
French carrier OrangeSA last week also decided against buying Huawei gear for its 5G network. Meanwhile Britain’s BT carrier recently has decided to pull Huawei equipment from its existing network.
In the past few days the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA) issued a warning to critical industries against the use of both software and hardware of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., and ZTE Corporation. Use of these devices presents a security threat.”The main issue is a legal and political environment of the People’s Republic of China, where aforementioned companies primarily operate. China’s laws, among other things, require private companies residing in China to cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat,” said NCISA director Dušan Navrátil.
Another reason, NCISA, is China “actively pursues its interests in the territory of the Czech Republic, including influence and espionage intelligence activities.”
According to Bloomberg News, last week German carrier Deutsche Telekom AG raised the prospect of dropping Huawei, Norway said it’s weighing concerns with using suppliers from countries with which there’s no security policy co-operation.
No evidence of espionage
On the other hand the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security is quoted as telling a newspaper that it won’t ban Huawei until it sees evidence of espionage. The agency has yet to see any credible evidence which would suggest working with Huawei or other Chinese companies would present a risk to industry or Germany as a nation, he indicated.
Part of this combustible mix is the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited for allegedly lying about the business dealings of a Huawei-connected company with Iran. That took place while China and the U.S. are trying to resolve a trade dispute. Although in theory the arrest had nothing to do the talks, some critics think the timing is no coincidence. And U.S. President Donald Trump caused confusion when he offered to intervene with Canada and his own Justice department if it would help further a trade deal.
Confused? Here’s another report to chew on: Strand Consult, a Copenhagen-based telecom consultancy, said in a note Tuesday that American security fears about Chinese technology date back to 2005. “Many Western counties require that critical infrastructure used by the government, military, and public safety providers must be built by companies from NATO countries,” it says in part.
It admits that European countries are worried about Huawei’s growing sales to carriers may hurt European based network equipment makers Nokia and Ericsson. Still, it adds, “it’s rational that nations start to focus on resilience and vet the companies that supply infrastructure and services.”
On the other hand, the note says, “the telecom value chain is so vast that if one wanted to spy on end users, there are many other touchpoints than just the Chinese-made ones.”