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Huawei reacts to Chinese military link 'misperceptions'

Huawei's routers and other products contain no threats to US national security, the firm's US chairman Ken Hu has stressed in an exhaustive open letter responding to various allegations
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Huawei has hit back at various allegations against the company, including those over supposed links with the Chinese military, financial support from the Chinese government and threats to US national security.

In a lengthy open letter released on Thursday, Huawei USA chairman Ken Hu said these "falsehoods have had a significant and negative impact on our business activity and, as such, they must be addressed as part of our effort to correct the record". He invited the US authorities to investigate Huawei and its security.

Huawei China allegations

Huawei responded to "misperceptions" of the company, according to US chairman Ken Hu. Photo credit: David Meyer

In the UK, Huawei has addressed similar security concerns by setting up a GCHQ-monitored testing testing centre in Banbury, to prove that Huawei's products, such as routers, are suitable for use in the critical national infrastructure. As well as being a major supplier to BT, Huawei is also reportedly in the running to provide the infrastructure needed for mobile communications on the London Underground.

Hu's letter was prompted by the US administration's opposition to Huawei's takeover of an insolvent Californian server company called 3Leaf — after the Committee of Foreign Investment said on 11 February that the $2m (£1.2m) deal should not go ahead, the Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer dropped the purchase plan.

"Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, as we have been investing in the United States, we have encountered a number of misperceptions that some hold about Huawei," Hu said. "If the United States government has any real concerns of this nature about Huawei, we would like to clearly understand those concerns, and whether they relate to the past or future development of our company.

"We believe we can work closely with the United States government to address any concerns and we will certainly comply with any additional security requirements. We also remain open to any investigation deemed necessary by American authorities, and we will continue to cooperate transparently with all government agencies."

It is factual to say that no one has ever offered any evidence that Huawei has been involved in any military technologies.
– Ken Hu, Huawei

"Matter of fact"

For years, rumours have circulated about supposed links between Huawei and the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Hu said these allegations rested entirely on the fact that Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei once served in the PLA Engineering Corps from 1974 to 1983, without rank.

"It is a matter of fact that Mr Ren is just one of the many CEOs around the world who have served in the military, and it is also a matter of fact that Huawei has only offered telecommunications equipment that is in line with civil standards," Hu wrote. "It is also factual to say that no one has ever offered any evidence that Huawei has been involved in any military technologies at any time."

Hu said Huawei did receive financial support from the Chinese government for research and development purposes, in the form of tax incentives. He said this was "consistent with financial support that is provided to normal businesses in China and in many other countries, including the United States".

The Huawei USA chairman stressed that there was no evidence to back up rumours of the company being able to use its technology to "steal confidential information in the United States or launch network attacks on entities in the US at a specific time". He said the company's systems were audited by third parties, and Huawei had been "actively tackling challenges of network security through partnerships with network security regulators throughout the world".

On the subject of intellectual property rights, a major sticking point in US-Chinese relations, Hu said Huawei paid $222m in licensing fees to western companies — the majority to US firms — and the company had learned that any disputes could be "settled properly through bilateral negotiations".

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