UK Fears Huawei Spying For China At Cyber Security Evaluation Centre

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News Posted: Fri, Jul 19 2013 3:13 PM
The U.S. government has stated that it’s concerned about China-based Huawei and its ties to the Chinese government and military, and the UK shares that concern. After Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) issued a report stating that a great deal more oversight was needed regarding foreign involvement in the country’s Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), the UK is now investigating the role of Huawei staff at the Cyber Security Evaluations Centre (aka the “Cell”) in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

The Cell’s job is to “test all updates to Huawei’s hardware and software for high-risk components before they are deployed on UK networks”. However, Huawei funds the Cell--entirely. But the concern remains that although its staff is largely security-cleared UK personnel, Huawei is partially controlled by the Chinese government, and the workers are in turn partially controlled by Huawei. It’s not a huge leap to see that if the aforementioned is true, there’s a national security problem to address.

Huawei UK
Inside Huawei UK (credit: maris-interiors.co.uk)

Huawei’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei (pictured, credit: AP via BBC) is a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army, which makes many governments uneasy, and Huawei is the second-largest telecom in the world, supplying services to the UK and many other places. The ISC is concerned that Huawei’s interest in the UK is more political than commercial.

Huawei says that this is not true, and to the point about it being connected or controlled by the Chinese government, Huawei says that it’s 98.6% owned by its employees. Cathy Meng, daughter of Zhengfei, is the company’s CFO and pledged additional transparency and openness.

Huawei HQ in Shenzen
Huawei HQ in Shenzen

Is this shrewd national security action on the UK’s part, or is it paranoia? (Or worse, xenophobia?) It’s difficult to say. However, it is worth noting that Huawei entered into a contract in the UK in 2005, and those issuing the contract didn’t inform the Ministers until a year after the deal was done. The ISC report says that this was an oversight that revealed “a disconnect between the UK’s inward investment policy and its national security policy”. In other words, it was a lucrative business deal, but it gave a foreign (and somewhat untrusted) entity access to the UK’s CNI without the government’s input.

If nothing else, it certainly makes sense for the government of any nation to have some say in any dealings that would allow a foreign company with any suspected ties to its foreign government access to its national security infrastructure.
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realneil replied on Fri, Jul 19 2013 8:40 PM

Yep!

Don't trust them at all.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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mhenriday replied on Sun, Jul 21 2013 6:52 AM

Ironic - but hardly surprising - to hear a former spymaster for a regime that demonstrably snoops on everyone and everybody, both inside and outside the country, point the finger at someone else and claim that they are (gasp !) spying. Thief crying «Stop thief !» ?...

Huawei's response has been the following :

«This is tired nonsense we've been hearing for years, trotted out anew as a flimsy bright and shiny object to distract attention from the very real compromising of global networks and information that has been exposed in recent weeks. Misdirecting and slandering Huawei may feel okay because the company is Chinese-based - no harm, no foul, right? Wrong. Huawei is a world-proven multinational across 150 global markets that supports scores and scores of American livelihoods, and thousands more, indirectly, through $6 billion a year in procurements from American suppliers. Someone says they got some proof of some sort of threat? Okay. Then put up. Or shut up. Lacking proof in terms of the former, which seems clearly the case, this is politically-inspired and racist corporate defamation, nothing more.»

I can only agree....

Henri

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