September 6, 2012
Huawei Denies Ties With Chinese Government, Calls For Global Security Cooperation
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
In a renewed effort to alleviate U.S. security concerns, Chinese network equipment maker Huawei Technologies Ltd. issued a report on Tuesday in which it pledged never to engage in espionage or cooperate with spies. The company also rejected allegations that it was linked to the Chinese government.
The 24-page report, authored by John Suffolk, a former British government chief information officer who became Huawei´s global security officer last year, calls for worldwide cooperation in creating legal and technology security standards. Current laws, Huawei said, are inconsistent or fail to address critical threats.
“As a global company, Huawei is dedicated to closely collaborating, innovating and establishing international standards with other global organizations to ensure that the integrity and security of the networked solutions and services we provide meets or exceeds the needs of our customers and provides the assurance confidence required by their own customers,” read the report, which makes no recommendations for what particular set of standards to adopt.
“This document represents one step to improve industry awareness of our own global efforts to ensure a secure and better cyber future for all of us and to present our view on actions companies and governments need to carry out to manage the global cyber security challenge.”
Huawei was founded in 1987 by a former Chinese military engineer, and has since grown into the world's second-largest supplier of networking equipment.
Concerns about whether the company might be controlled by China's Communist Party or military have stalled its growth in the United States and other countries.
But Huawei, based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, denies it is a security threat.
"We have never damaged any nation or had the intent to steal any national intelligence, enterprise secrets or breach personal privacy and we will never support or tolerate such activities, nor will we support any entity from any country who may wish us to undertake an activity that would be deemed illegal in any country," the report read.
Huawei spokesman Scott Sykes said the report was not a result of security concerns about the company in the United States and elsewhere.
"You could say that the information in the paper could be helpful in those countries where we've had challenges," Sykes told the Associated Press.
"It's not a specific response to those situations, but does it apply to those? Yes."
In June, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei called for similar security cooperation during a rare public appearance at a business conference in Russia, urging industry to "join hands" so that security threats would not continue to grow.
Huawei, which has more than 140,000 employees, says its products are used by 45 of the world's 50 largest telecom companies. It reported a profit last year of $1.8 billion (11.6 billion yuan) on sales of $32.4 billion (209.9 billion yuan).
While the company has sought to calm concerns by foreign officials over possible security threats, it has disclosed few details about who controls Huawei, fueling further suspicions.
The Chinese equipment maker said it is working on security issues with groups such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), global mobile standards body 3GPP and computer security group FIRST.
Huawei was prohibited by the Australian government from bidding on the country´s National Broadband Network contracts due to concerns over cyberattacks traced back to China, saying the move was "consistent with the government's practice for ensuring the security and resilience of Australia's critical infrastructure more broadly."
Huawei was also forced to unwind its purchase of U.S.-based computer firm 3Leaf Systems last year after it failed to gain approval from the U.S. government.
Earlier this year, the House Intelligence Committee sent letters to Huawei and other Chinese makers of telecom equipment stating concerns over their connections and ties to the Chinese government. In the letter, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) said the committee was "concerned" that Chinese authorities could be hacking or otherwise attempting to breach U.S. networks through its telecom intermediaries.
A congressional panel will now investigate whether allowing Huawei, rival ZTE and other Chinese makers of telecom equipment to expand in the U.S. might support spying by Beijing.
But Huawei´s report rejects as "inherently discriminatory" that some technology suppliers could be trusted more than others based on their national origin. The report cited suppliers such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, which have extensive operations in China that serve foreign customers.
“We have never damaged any nation or had the intent to steal any national intelligence, enterprise secrets, or breach personal privacy, and we will never support. For our survival, we have never damaged any nation or had the intent to steal any national intelligence, enterprise secrets or breach personal privacy and we will never support or tolerate such activities, nor will we support any entity from any country who may wish us to undertake an activity that would be deemed illegal in any country,” the report read.
“In this context, with the eyes of the world always upon us, with us positively encouraging audits and inspections of our capabilities, those that wish a vendor to undertake such an activity is more likely to select a company that is under less scrutiny.”
But with so much sensitive, personal and government-related information being transmitted through Huawei´s equipment, it´s not surprising that some remain worried about the company´s possible links to the Chinese government.