Asia Business Channel

China-US Trade War – More countries considering Huawei ban

China’s largest telecommunications group, Huawei, has hopes to "dominate the market" for the next generation of mobile communications networks, but now finds that its goal is threatened around the world as more countries see the company's devices as national security threats that must be removed.

The United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand have barred Huawei from taking part in their 5G infrastructure build-outs amid concerns of its links with China's government. Other countries closely associated with the United States defense and intelligence agencies, such as Canada and the United Kingdom are under pressure to follow the U.S. lead.

Concerns about Huawei have been around three main issues: (1) the belief that Huawei is closely connected to the Chinese government and military; (2) that its hardware has “backdoors” that allow the Chinese government to monitor all data passed through the Huawei systems; and (3) a belief by western countries that Chinese technology must be “held back” so that it doesn’t catch-up with western technology.

Huawei has become more concerned with its future as it saw the following happening in Europe, it’s second most important market:

Alex Younger, Director of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, said that Britain needed "to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies."

A few days after the statement by Younger, British Telecom said it was removing Huawei equipment from the core of U.K. 3G and 4G communications networks that are used from police and other emergency responders. The British government-run center that tests the company’s equipment and software this summer identified “shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes that have exposed new risks” in U.K. networks.

• Belgium’s cybersecurity agency is considering a ban on Huawei

• Czechoslovakia’s prime minister ordered his government office on Tuesday to stop using Huawei mobile phones, after the national cybersecurity agency warned that products by Huawei and another Chinese telecom company, ZTE, pose “a security threat.”

• Germany's Deutsche Telekom said that it would "re-evaluate its procurement strategy" in regard to Huawei. The company also said it took "the global discussion about the security of network elements from Chinese manufacturers very seriously."

• Norway’s telecom ministry said it was considering clarifying requirements from network operators, without being more specific.

Adding to Huawei’s concerns, Andrus Ansip, the head of technology policies for the European Union's (EU) said that all EU members "have to be worried" about security risks that Chinese companies posed in European 5G and driverless car projects.

Ansip said: "They (Huawei) have to cooperate with their intelligence services. This is about mandatory backdoors. I was always against having those mandatory backdoor but (It is) about chips they can put somewhere to get our secrets."

Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer at the People’s Liberation Army founded Huawei in 1987. Although the company was founded because of technology contracts that it received from the PLA and other military forces, it has denied time and time again that it does not have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party or design equipment that facilitate eavesdropping.

Huawei executives have said that: “governments around the world have examined our equipment minutely but have not found any evidence that our equipment has backdoors for the Chinese government.” But business and political experts say that no Chinese company is fully independent of its government, which can legally require companies to assist with intelligence gathering.

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