Huawei, ZTE deny U.S. charges; House lawmakers unconvinced

Huawei, ZTE deny U.S. charges; House lawmakers unconvinced

Summary: An ongoing U.S. House investigation into the Chinese telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE continue to stir. Huawei believes the claims are simply: "allegations based on allegations."

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Chinese telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE have denied U.S. charges that they have connections with the Chinese government, amid allegations that their equipment and technology has 'backdoors' that could be used for foreign espionage.

The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held an open hearing on "the national security threats posed by Chinese telecom companies doing business in the United States," which detailed a string of allegations pointed at the two of the largest telecoms equipment makers in the world.

The two firms, particularly Huawei, have found it difficult to make progress in the U.S. market due to the fears networks could be compromised by the Chinese government and its allies. 

Huawei's senior vice-president Charles Ding strongly defended his company's case in front of the U.S. lawmakers:

"Huawei has not and will not jeopardise our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers' networks for any third party, government or otherwise," according to the BBC.

"We will never do anything that undermines that trust. It would be immensely foolish for Huawei to risk involvement in national security or economic espionage," reiterating much the same sentiments by John Suffolk, former U.K. government chief information officer and currently Huawei's global security officer, in a report which stated that the firm would "never... tolerate such activities" such as hacking or espionage.

ZTE senior vice-president for North America and Europe Zhu Jinyun also testified at the hearing. He said that what people had been calling "back doors" are "actually software bugs" and that there was nothing sinister about the way the technology works.

He warned that ZTE should not be a focus of this investigation "to the exclusion of the much larger Western vendors."

The committee is close to completing a year-long investigation into the two firms, but there is little hope of a shining light at the end of the tunnel. The two sides are at loggerheads and there appears to be no resolution in sight, short of a monumental back-track by either side.

"We have heard reports about back doors or unexplained beaconing [a network self-repair technology] from the equipment sold by both companies," said Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), the committee's chairman.

According to sister-site CNET, members of the U.S. House were left "frustrated" and "unconvinced" by the testimony.

Both Huawei and ZTE will supply a list of their company's committee members who are also members of China's ruling Communist Party, something the U.S. House committee said they had previously declined to submit.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Huawei urged the Australian government not to discriminate on foreign companies, after the firm was banned from bidding on contracts for the country's National Broadband Network over similar fears to the U.S.

"We believe the principle of non-discrimination should be clearly set out in any legislative reform," John Lord, Huawei's Australia chairman told an Australian parliamentary intelligence committee.

Topics: China, Government US, Government UK, Telcos, Australia

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8 comments
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  • What Would Convince Them?

    Those Congresspeople were not there to be reassured, but to find excuses to reinforce their suspicions. For the US, the Cold War never ended, it simply moved to a different target.
    ldo17
  • We offered Huawei a chance to speak

    Last year, Suffolk emailed me to scold me about my coverage. He wanted to have a phone conversation with me to school me on our "misconceptions." Instead, I offered him an opportunity for a video interview to say anything he wanted about Huawei's viewpoint. He declined.

    We did give them a chance to speak to readers directly.

    --David
    David Gewirtz
    • Well, obviously

      They have nothing to hide. Nothing.
      harvey_rabbit
  • THey would never do anything like that

    "Huawei has not and will not jeopardise our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers' networks for any third party, government or otherwise," according to the BBC.

    "We will never do anything that undermines that trust. It would be immensely foolish for Huawei to risk involvement in national security or economic espionage ... unless we or our families are threatened or coerced by the Chinese government, of course"

    "None of us have had to 'play ball' with the Chinese government to get to where we are. Where would that silly idea come from?" they said.

    "We also have many bridges ready for immediate sale."
    harvey_rabbit
  • Do not discriminate!

    "We believe the principle of non-discrimination should be clearly set out in any legislative reform," John Lord, Huawei's Australia chairman told an Australian parliamentary intelligence committee. "Any paranoid, all-powerful, tech-stealing, repressive government that actively funds cyber-attacks on the West should be able to get top-security contracts just because they are not white. Otherwise it's racism."

    He continued, "The fact that the Chinese government has all our employees under their considerable thumb should not be a factor, in their estimation. You are really hurting our feelings for the sake of what, national security? Pfah!"
    harvey_rabbit
  • Thief Screaming Stop Thief

    ECHELON, CARNIVORE, MAGIC LANTERN, INFRAGARD, PROMIS, Stuxnet, the Flame worm, Microsoft diddling with SKYPE code. The list just goes on.

    The hearings are clearly McCarthyism modernized. The only way to stop the paranoia is to have America take leadership and stop the dastardly acts. What is good must be universal.

    If Beijing applies Washington's standards, NONE of the major U.S. tech companies could be making the hundreds of billions in profits in China.
    Zhuubaajie
  • So Where Does Beijing Start

    IF the standard is whether the entities are cooperating with their own national governments, and cannot say "no", again NONE of the American companies would pass the test, and thus should be excluded from the Chinese market to the extent ZTE and Huawai had been excluded from America.

    Take Infragard. The American govt. asked for "voluntary compliance" by all businesses that use encryption in their businesses, to provide the keys and a backdoor to the authorities. To date, NONE of the major American tech companies stood up and said no.
    Zhuubaajie
    • bugs?

      There you have it. Huawei should be limited, and ZTE too. Thanks Zhuubaajie, you nationalist pig.

      >what people had been calling "back doors" are "actually software bugs"

      Buffer overflow holes are programming/design errors, often called bugs, and exploitable. Well, they could be bugs, right? Or not.
      One way or another, the Chinese do indeed think the rest of the earthlings are less clever.
      Stroyde