Why Is The Planet Freaking Out About Huawei?

One of the stories that readers told me that I didn’t cover was the ongoing saga of Huawei and the fact that many countries see them as a threat. Readers wanted to know what the big deal with them was and if they are a real threat. Thus I decided to write a quick primer on Huawei and everything that surrounds them.

First, let’s discuss who Huawei are. Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. is a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and consumer electronics company based in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Huawei has deployed its products and services in more than 170 countries, and as of 2011 it served 45 of the 50 largest telecom operators. And that’s where their problems begin. It is perceived by many that Huawei because of its close relationship with the Chinese government is using Huawei equipment to act as a means to spy. Specifically:

  1. There could be “kill switches” in Huawei equipment that even close inspections would miss.
  2. There could be “back doors” which could be used for data snooping which the Chinese government could leverage.

Now even though these security concerns are not new as this Wikipedia article details, they are being brought to the forefront because of the rollout of 5G technology. You see teclos can only buy the back end gear needed to rollout 5G tech from a small number of providers. And Huawei is one of the biggest makers of this sort of back end gear. Given that there’s a significant amount of mistrust of Huawei, and the company hasn’t exactly done itself any favors by saying anything other than “trust us”, here we are talking about it. Countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand have banned the company from their networks. The US has suggested that a similar ban is coming and Canada is under immense pressure to do the same. Telcos are either ripping out their gear or at least thinking about doing so. And even sports teams are dumping their gear within their facilities.

What also doesn’t help Huawei is the fact that they have a history of violating sanctions against countries such as North Korea, Syria and Iran. Something that doesn’t exactly go over well with many countries such as the US, the EU and others. That has been brought to light by the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou by Canada at the request of the US. She’s accused of hatching a complex deal to violate sanctions against Iran. Which in turn has set off a diplomatic row between China and Canada with China arresting two Canadians to try and force Canada to release Meng, A full timeline on all of this can be found here.

I should also point out the fact that they have a bit of a history of being accused of stealing intellectual property which doesn’t help their cause. But let’s get to the point of this story. Is Huawei a threat? Before I get to what I think, let me say this. There’s never been any definitive proof that they are as no security has ever found a back door in any of their gear (yet). But at the same time, there’s nothing out there that says that they are not a threat given the fact that other companies from China have had a history of being caught doing things they shouldn’t be doing. ZTE being the prime example of this. Now Huawei has repeatedly stressed it’s a private company that’s owned by its employees and has no connection to the Chinese government. But seeing as company founder Ren Zhengfei was once an officer in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, it makes people wonder how much independence the company has from the government. No matter how loose the association between is between the company in general, the founder specially, and the Chinese government is. Regardless, you can expect that in 2019 that talk about going after Huawei will ramp up and a lot more time and effort will be put into figuring out if they are a threat or not.

As for what I think, I have been on record as saying that I think that Huawei is a threat that needs to be taken seriously because there’s evidence floating around out there that suggests that they are a threat. But seriously, who cares what I think. If Huawei wants to put this issue to bed once and for all, they need to open themselves up to allow for closer scrutiny. Something that the company has suggested that they will do. But it can’t be a line item on their financials nor can it be a dog and pony show with no substance. The only way this goes away is if the company is completely open and demonstrates without a doubt that they aren’t a threat to anyone. Whether they are willing and capable of doing so is a very open question that will be answered in 2019 one would think.

 

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3 Responses to “Why Is The Planet Freaking Out About Huawei?”

  1. […] Plus they were caught using a pro camera to promote how good the cameras on their phones were….. Twice. Clearly this is a company who has issues beyond the fact that their CFO being arrested and people thinking that they are a threat to national security. […]

  2. […] is sure to make life difficult for Canada as China is likely to flip out at this latest development in the Huawei gong show. At this point, Canada should just hand over Meng and be done with […]

  3. […] until the situation with the Canadians that China is holding in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the Americans who want to put her in jail for a very long time is fully […]

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