Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping recently took to the web to clear Huawei’s good name and put the US back in its place.
He recently wrote a blog post attempting to clear the air surrounding Huawei’s less than positive relationship with the US.
Ping writes, “As a top Huawei executive, I’m often asked why the US has launched a full-scale assault on us. The Americans have charged us with stealing technology and violating trade sanctions and largely blocked us from doing business there.
“Mike Pence, US vice-president, recently told Nato of “the threat posed by Huawei,” and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, warned allies that using our telecommunications equipment would make it harder for the US to “partner alongside them.”
“At the Mobile World Congress, the industry’s largest trade show, a US delegation led by Ajit Pai, Federal Communications Commission chair, repeated the call to keep Huawei out of global 5G networks.”
This was the same show where Huawei announced their new digital inclusion initiative, Tech4ALL. Huawei’s deputy chairman Ken Hu outlined Huawei’s plans to help 500 million additional people around the world benefit directly from digital technology in the next five years.
He called on governments, industry organisations and business partners to act together to promote digital inclusion for all during this talk
“While much of the telecommunications industry is focused on next-generation technology like 5G and AI,” Hu said, “we can’t forget that there are still many people excluded from the digital world. There are still more than 3.8 billion people who are offline, and one billion people without mobile broadband coverage. We need to expand the definition of digital inclusion beyond connectivity to include applications and skills too.”
“We can’t just think people,” Hu continued, “but also small businesses. By expanding our definition of digital inclusion, we can help more people and organisations directly benefit from digital technology.”
Washington has cast a suspicious eye on Huawei for years. A 2012 report by the House Intelligence Committee labelled them as a threat. But, until recently, these attacks were relatively muted. Now the US has brought out the heavy artillery and portrayed Huawei as a threat to Western civilisation.
Ping writes, “The Snowden leaks shone a light on how the NSA’s leaders were seeking to collect it all. Those documents also showed that the NSA maintains corporate partnerships with particular US technology and telecom companies that allow the agency to gain access to high-capacity international fibre-optic cables, switches, and/or routers throughout the world”.
“Huawei operates in more than 170 countries and earns half of its revenue abroad, but its headquarters are in China. This significantly reduces the odds of a corporate partnership. If the NSA wants to modify routers or switches in order to eavesdrop, a Chinese company will be unlikely to co-operate.”
“Clearly, the more Huawei gear is installed in the world’s telecommunications networks, the harder it becomes for the NSA to “collect it all”. Huawei, in other words, hampers US efforts to spy on whomever it wants. This is the first reason for the campaign against us.”
Huawei clearly aims to switch the narrative and throw the US’ own allegations against them, and their claims aren’t just posturing as there is some truth in their statements.
Ping continues, “The second reason has to do with 5G. This latest generation of mobile technology will provide data connections for everything from smart factories to electric power grids. Huawei has invested heavily in 5G research for the past 10 years, putting us roughly a year ahead of our competitors. That makes us attractive to countries that are preparing to upgrade to 5G in the next few months.
“If the US can keep Huawei out of the world’s 5G networks by portraying us as a security threat, it can retain its ability to spy on whomever it wants. America also directly benefits if it can quash a company that curtails its digital dominance.”
“Hobbling a leader in 5G technology would erode the economic and social benefits that would otherwise accrue to the countries that roll it out early. Meanwhile, US laws, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the Stored Communications act as amended by the CLOUD Act, empower the US government to compel telecom companies to assist in its program of global surveillance, as long as the order is framed as an investigation involving counter-intelligence or counter-terrorism.”
Ping concludes that the fusillade being directed at Huawei is the direct result of Washington’s realisation that the US has fallen behind in developing a strategically important technology. He believes that the global campaign against Huawei has little to do with security, and everything to do with America’s desire to suppress a rising technological competitor.
In my opinion, this is as valid of a view to have on the situation as any, we live in a digital era where data is constantly being collected, it’s just a question of who you’re more comfortable with looking at that data.