Huawei sacks employee arrested in Poland as Warsaw mulls EU ban

Huawei said it has sacked an employee who was arrested in Poland on allegations of spying, saying the incident has brought the company into disrepute.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei says it has terminated the employment of a Chinese worker arrested on spying allegations in Poland.

Polish authorities on Friday arrested Wang Weijing and a former Polish security official on Friday on spying allegations, a move that could fuel Western security concerns about the company.

The two men have heard the charges and could be held for three months.

Poland's Internal Affairs Minister, Joachim Brudzinski, called for the European Union and NATO to work on a joint position over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets following the arrest.

Brudzinski said Poland wanted to continue cooperating with China but that a discussion is needed on whether to exclude Huawei from some markets.

"There are concerns about Huawei within NATO as well. It would make most sense to have a joint stance, among EU member states and NATO members," he told private broadcaster RMF FM.

"We want relations with China that are good, intensive, and attractive for both sides."

Seeking to distance itself from the incident, Huawei said in a statement it has sacked Wang Weijing, whose "alleged actions have no relation to the company".

"In accordance with the terms and conditions of Huawei's labour contract, we have made this decision because the incident has brought Huawei into disrepute," the statement said.

"Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates, and we require every employee to abide by the laws and regulations in the countries where they are based," the company's statement added.

A Huawei spokesman, Joe Kelly, declined to give any further details.

Also: Five Eyes alliance reportedly looping in Germany, Japan against China

A spokesman for the Polish security services had told Reuters the allegations related to individual actions, and were not linked directly to Huawei Technologies.

A deputy digital affairs minister in Poland said, however, that Warsaw was analysing any involvement by Huawei in building the country's 5G telecommunications infrastructure, Money.pl portal reported.

Any decision by Western governments over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets would have to consider the possible impact on the speed and cost of 5G development, analysts say.

China's Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the case and is urging Poland to handle the case "justly".

In December, the Czech Republic's National Cyber and Information Security Agency issued a warning against equipment Huawei and ZTE.

"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," says the director of NCISA Dusan Navrátil.

Navrátil also warned that China "actively pursues its interests in the territory of the Czech Republic, including influence and espionage intelligence activities".

Meanwhile in Canada, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is in Vancouver on bail, following her December 1 arrest, and facing possible extradition to the United States.

The Huawei CFO, who is also the company's founder's daughter, is accused by the US of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions.

Over recent months, Huawei's 5G equipment has so far been banned or limited by the US, Australia, and New Zealand, while the UK's BT said it would be stripping Huawei from EE's mobile core.

Chinese ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye said last week it appears some people believe Canadian nationals should be treated humanitarianly, while the Chinese should not.

"The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egotism and white supremacy," he said. "In such a context, the rule of law is nothing but a tool for their political ends and a fig leaf for their practising hegemony in the international arena.

"What they have been doing is not showing respect for the rule of law, but mocking and trampling the rule of law."

Lu said there was no evidence to the accusations that Huawei is controlled by Beijing.

Last month, then-Huawei Chairman Ken Hu said any evidence against the company should be revealed.

"If you have proof and evidence, it should be made public, maybe not to the general public, not to Huawei," he said. "But at the very least, it should be made known to telecom operators, because it's telecom operators who are going to buy from Huawei."

Hu said the company has never had a serious cybersecurity incident, and has never taken requests from any government to "damage the business or networks of our customers or other countries".

"When it comes to security allegations, it's best to let the facts speak for themselves. And the fact is: Huawei's record on security is clean," he said.

More on China: Daily active users for WeChat exceeds 1 billion | Huawei unveils Kunpeng 920 server Arm chip | Law regulating online shopping activities enforced in China | White House mulls using emergency powers to ban Huawei and ZTE

In a 2019 New Year's message, rotating Huawei chair Guo Ping said the company has a "very strong track record" in cybersecurity.

"Huawei has never and will never present a security threat," he wrote. "We will hold ourselves to the highest standards, placing cyber security and privacy protection at the very top of our agenda.

"We plan to systematically enhance our software engineering capabilities over the next five years, building trust and high quality into each and every one of our products and solutions."

The chair added that the company needed to remain calm in the face of adverse international politics over the next year.

"We must not be discouraged by malicious incidents or temporary setbacks, and must remain determined to achieve global leadership," he wrote.

"Setbacks will only make us more courageous, and incredibly unfair treatment will drive us to become the world's number one."

With AAP

Related Coverage

Five Eyes alliance reportedly looping in Germany, Japan against China

Chinese foreign interference is causing the Five Eyes intelligence alliance between the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand to expand informally to other nations, according to Reuters.

Huawei CFO cannot be trusted: Prosecutors

Huawei global CFO Meng Wanzhou is still fighting for bail during the wait for her extradition hearing, with prosecutors alleging she cannot be trusted while she cites health concerns.

Huawei unveils Kunpeng 920 server Arm chip

Chinese giant spruiks higher performance with lower power consumption in its own tests.

CES 2019: Huawei challenges Apple's MacBook Pro with the ultra-slim touchscreen MateBook 13

Huawei makes some fantastic smartphones, but they are not readily available in the US. However, it has equally compelling laptops and the new 2019 MateBook 13 offers elegant hardware at reasonable prices.

Huawei's smartphone OS aims to challenge iOS/Android dominance: Can it succeed? (TechRepublic)

Huawei is developing their own OS as a contingency plan in the event US sanctions make using Android unviable. In a crowded market, is there room for a third OS?

Editorial standards