Huawei, ZTE cannot be trusted, pose a security threat: Barr


Sat, Nov 16, 2019 - Page 10

Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and ZTE Corp (中興) “cannot be trusted,” US Attorney General William Barr said in a letter released on Thursday, labeling the Chinese firms a security threat as he backed a proposal to bar rural wireless carriers from tapping an US$8.5 billion government fund to purchase equipment or services from the companies.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to vote on Friday next week on a proposal requiring the carriers to remove and replace equipment from the companies.

Barr said in a letter to the commission that “their own track record, as well as the practices of the Chinese government, demonstrate that Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted.”

“We should not signal that Huawei and ZTE are anything other than a threat to our collective security, for that is exactly what they, through their actions, have shown themselves to be,” he said.

Huawei and ZTE did not immediately comment.

Barr said that US federal prosecutors have charged Huawei with breaches of the US embargo on Iran, bank fraud, obstruction of justice and trade secret theft.

ZTE in 2017 pleaded guilty to illegally sending approximately US$32 million of US goods to Iran.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the commission “cannot ignore the risk that the Chinese government will seek to exploit network vulnerabilities in order to engage in espionage, insert malware and viruses, and otherwise compromise our critical communications networks.”

The move is the latest action aimed at barring US companies from purchasing Huawei and ZTE equipment.

Huawei last week said that “in 30 years of business, Huawei has never had a major security-related incident in the 170 countries where we operate.”

The US government added Huawei to its economic blacklist in May, saying the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to US national security.

Washington has pressed other nations not to grant Huawei access to 5G networks and alleged Huawei’s equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the Chinese company has repeatedly denied.

Several European nations have not agreed to bar Huawei, despite US pressure.

US President Donald Trump in May signed a long-awaited executive order declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk.

The order directed the US Department of Commerce to draw up an enforcement plan by the middle of last month.

The department has yet to publish a plan.