National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) yesterday said that his bureau does not support government agencies using China’s Huawei Technologies Co’s (華為) products and said the company should be barred from government bids.
Tsai made the remarks during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in the morning.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) asked Tsai Der-sheng whether government agencies, including the Presidential Office and the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, had used Huawei’s network cards in their work cellphones.
He said that the government should be more alert to the possibility that confidential information could “very easily” be obtained by China via Huawei products.
Saying that Huawei is linked to the People’s Liberation Army, Tsai Huang-liang said that the government should ban the company from participating in public bids.
If the government itself is the biggest buyers of Huawei products, how could the government restrict private companies from buying Huawei products for national security concerns, he added.
“This is our policy now. The NSB has banned using Huawei’s products and thinks other government bureaus should not use the company’s products,” the NSB official added.
Tsai Huang-liang cited government statistics showing that the Investigation Bureau bought 124 sets of Huawei network cards, while the Presidential Office six sets and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications bought 20 Huawei cellphones.
The Mainland Affairs Council bought one set of Huawei’s network cards, but stopped using them after discovering they were produced by Huawei, he added.
The Investigation Bureau responded in a press statement that last year, it applied for a number of cellphone numbers from Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) for agents’ internal communications, but Chunghwa offered network cards produced by Huawei with the numbers.
The Investigation Bureau added that those cellphones were closed-system cellphones used in inner network and could not be connected with the Internet or other networks.
The bureau is not concerned that confidential information could have been leaked by using those public phones, it added.
The Investigation Bureau said that it had no knowledge that the wireless network sticks it acquired from Chunghwa Telecom were manufactured by Huawei at the time of purchase.
“As the products have only been connected to the bureau’s closed internal network, there is no possibility that [confidential national security information] has been leaked,” the bureau said.
At a legislative session earlier yesterday, Tsai Huang-liang presented statistics regarding government agencies’ procurement of communication devices from Huawei in the past year.
The statistics showed that the Investigation Bureau had purchased 124 of Huawei’s E173 multi-mode wireless terminals, the largest number bought by any government agency.