Sun, Dec 09, 2018 - Page 16 News List

EU official warns about working with Huawei

AFP, BRUSSELS

The EU and its citizens should be “worried” about telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and other Chinese firms that cooperate with Beijing’s intelligence services, a senior EU official said on Friday.

Huawei quickly hit back at European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip’s warning, saying that it was “surprised and disappointed,” while rejecting any charges that it posed a security threat.

The Chinese firm has been under the spotlight since Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), Huawei chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei (任正非), was arrested nearly a week ago in Canada at Washington’s request.

The White House did not specify why she was detained, but mentioned longstanding US concerns over Chinese firms using stolen intellectual property and how Beijing acquires information technology.

“Do we [in Europe] have to be worried about Huawei or other Chinese companies?” Ansip asked during a news conference in Brussels.

“Yes, I think we have to be worried about those companies, because they set new rules according with their IT companies, their producers,” Ansip said.

“They have to cooperate with their intelligence services and this is about mandatory backdoors,” the former prime minister of Estonia said.

Ansip said he has long opposed such backdoors where the firm might use chips to obtain secrets from customers, although he added that little was known about concrete cases.

“It’s not a good sign when companies have to open their systems for some kind of secret services,” said Ansip, who is in charge of developing the EU’s digital single market. “As normal, ordinary people, of course we have to be afraid.”

However, the firm hit back quickly.

“Huawei is surprised and disappointed by the comments made about Huawei by European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip at today’s news conference on AI in Brussels,” the company said in a statement.

“We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat,” the company said, adding that it was willing to talk to Ansip to clear up what it called “misunderstandings.”

“Huawei has never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks, and we would never tolerate such behavior by any of our staff,” it said.

The latest flare-up with Huawei came after Meng’s arrest on Saturday last week, which experts have said marks a tougher stance in Washington on dealing with Chinese tech firms amid longstanding concerns over cyberespionage.

US federal law already bans military and government use of devices made by Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE Corp (中興) over security concerns.

Federal regulators are also in the process of implementing rules that would bar Huawei for rolling out fifth-generation, or 5G, networks in the US, while the company is facing bans for 5G contracts in Australia and New Zealand.

British telecom group BT PLC on Wednesday announced that it was removing Huawei equipment from its core cellular network.

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