Critical Chinese tech already banned: NCC

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Dec 09, 2018 - Page 3

Taiwan banned the use of core telecoms equipment manufactured by Chinese companies more than five years ago, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday, after US magazine The National Interest reported on the risks that such equipment could pose to Taiwan’s security.

In 2013, when the NCC was issuing 4G licenses, it stipulated that operators were not permitted to use core telecom network or base station equipment from China, NCC Deputy Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said

The decision was made after prudent assessment of national and information security risks, in light of the sophistication of 4G cellular network technology, Wong said.

The restrictions remain in place, so there is no need for concern about breaches of security in Taiwan as a result of telecom equipment, he added.

The National Interest on Friday published an article on the threat posed to Taiwan’s national security by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies.

The report, titled “Huawei: A Trojan horse inside Taiwan?” said that doing business with Huawei has been acceptable at low levels in Taiwan since 2005 and that Huawei equipment was discovered in the core networks of Taiwanese telecoms in 2015.

In 2013, National Security Bureau (NSB) data showed that even the Ministry of Justice’s Investigative Bureau and the Presidential Office were using Huawei network cards in their cell phones, the report said.

Huawei opened an outlet in Taipei in April this year and is running a “Christmas extravaganza” at New Taipei City’s Banciao MRT Station — a Huawei-themed show that includes a children’s train ride and a massive Santa with the company’s logo on it, the report said.

It cited Kitsch Liao (廖彥棻), a Taiwan-based cybersecurity specialist, as saying that Huawei has built backdoors into its hardware that serve as a dual threat to communications, enabling both espionage and sabotage.

No more evidence is needed than to type in “Huawei” and “TW” in Shodan, a search engine popular among hackers, Liao was quoted as saying, adding that the search results show that Taiwan is inundated with Huawei equipment, including webcams.

“The bottom line is that Huawei and ZTE hardware, even if we were to preclude claims of Chinese security apparatus working through them, are inherently unsafe,” Liao told The National Interest.

“I believe that government agencies and contractors should establish strict rules regarding the use of personal devices made in China, and that strict penalties should be in place for the unauthorized use of devices in handling government-related documents,” he told the magazine.

Huawei has close ties with the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese Ministry of State Security, the report said, adding that state-owned China Mobile Communications Group is Huawei’s largest shareholder, in essence making Huawei an appendage of Beijing’s “techno-Orwellian order.”

Security risks posed by Huawei equipment have made international headlines over the past weeks as Western countries moved to block use of its core telecom equipment for 5G networks.

Canada on Wednesday arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) at the request of the US government, reportedly over violations by the company of sanctions against Iran.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei (任正非).