Huawei threatens to exit the US market amid spying accusations

Huawei

Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world – passing Ericsson in 2012 – has threatened to pull out of the US market amid what they say are unsubstantiated claims of spying for the Chinese government. This comes from Huawei Chief Executive Officer Ren Zhengfei, who said at a press conference in France, that Huawei is “exiting the US market”.

Earlier this year Zhengfei said in relation to the Edward Snowden NSA spying leaks that:

Huawei has no connection to the cyber-security issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future.

While Ren has not advised that Huawei has any immediate plans to shut down their US offices, stating that Huawei mobile phones are still selling well. William Plummer, a Huawei vice president based in Washington advised that they are focusing priority on markets that are more receptive to competition such as Europe.

In Australia, Huawei has been banned from tendering for the National Broadband Network (NBN) by the previous government because of security concerns, though no proof of these concerns have been forthcoming. Huawei Australia has repeatedly denied claims that it is a security risk. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that the present government is considering lifting the ban on Huawei tendering for the NBN, in a recent interview he said:

Even if you accept the premise that Huawei would be an accessory to espionage – I’m not saying they will be, I’m just saying that’s the premise – if you accept that, you then have to ask yourself, does the equipment that they would propose to sell have that capacity? …Is the equipment that Huawei is proposing to sell to you, or the systems that they are proposing to sell, capable of intercepting and diverting traffic signals in a manner that is not detectable?

If the Australian government continues the ban on Huawei participating in the NBN, it’s possible we could see Huawei pull out of the Australian market as well.

What do you think? Is the Australian and/or the US government’s stance on Huawei reasonable?

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  • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

    Firmware needs to be open source

  • Annoying Old Fart

    And US comms manufacturers would never be spying, or arranging backdoors for US spies, nooooo… the hypocrisy is breathtaking. Huawei would be justified in taking their business to friendlier climes.

    • toast

      Yes, if I was China, I’d be wary of putting Cisco routers in the middle of my countries Internet infrastructure too.

      Cheap pre-paid phones are one thing, but slotting Chinese routers into the fundamentals of NBN, for example… you should be paranoid.

      • DarkRain

        Yeah, look at what happened with NSA – and that’s all American companies. Imagine NSA asking for access from a Chinese company – how well would that go down?

      • JeniSkunk

        toast, if we’re supposed to be paranoid about the unverified and undisclosable risks of putting Chinese designed and manufactured hardware into the middle of Australia’s communications infrastructure, why then should we NOT be just as paranoid about doing the same with US designed and manufactured hardware?
        The sole difference between the US mobs and the Chinese one, is that the US mobs have been publicly outed in their activities on behalf of the NSA.

      • toast

        Of course.
        I sincerely hope that whoever is managing our base Internet infrastructure (that’s all very vague because I really have no idea who does what) is careful about this.

        This whole NSA thing clearly makes the point that you should not trust the good intentions of 3rd parties.

      • vtwkang

        Another difference – and an important one at that – is that Australia and the US cooperate closely on intelligence matters. It’s not just a matter of who can theoretically do what, but a matter of where your strategic alliances lie.

      • JeniSkunk

        Australia does not merely closely co-operate on intelligence matters with the US. It obeys, without question, the US orders on intelligence matters.
        Australia’s strategic alliances lie, only where the US and UK tell us where Australia’s strategic alliances are to be permitted to lie.

  • GingerNutter

    Where’s the proof.

  • vtwkang

    I think we need to be level-headed here. Both the US and China spy on each other as well as their own citizens, but that doesn’t change the fact that if the allegations surrounding Huawei are credible, then allowing the company to build sensitive telecoms equipment (where the technology allows for the possibility of espionage) is potentially a risk to America’s and Australia’s national interests.

    It’s also worth pointing out that whilst Huawei is not a state-owned enterprise, it nonetheless enjoys closer ties with its national government than its Western counterparts. This is a product of the Chinese state-directed model of economic development.

  • DarkRain

    Maybe it’s the other way round – if Huawei provides equipment, the Australian government has no access and therefore cannot spy on Aussies? Or they are just assuming that since we are doing it, others must be also, with or without proof.

  • Bloods

    How is Huawei the biggest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world. I sure they are if you say so but I never heard of them.