Both Beijing and Huawei have vehemently denied US accusations that Huawei’s telecommunications equipment may be designed to spy on foreign corporations and countries on behalf of the Chinese government.
In an interview with the France 24 broadcaster, Robert Strayer, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, reiterated Washington’s concerns about an alleged threat emanating from Huawei equipment being used in future 5G mobile networks.“There's a larger cyberattack surface area when 5G technology is deployed because we have so much more software driving those systems. A nation-state could cause an update to that software […] to be compromised in the future”, Strayer claimed.
He asserted that Huawei would “do exactly what the intelligence and security services want in China” when it comes to 5G network development.
Berlin Can’t Set Up 5G Network Without Huawei, German Interior Minister Says
The interview comes a few days after German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned that if Huawei is excluded from the country’s 5G rollout project, it could be stalled for as long as five or even 10 years.“I don’t see that we can set up a 5G network in Germany at short notice without Huawei's participation”, he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper late last week.
The statement comes after the US House Representatives passed a legislation in December banning the use of governmental funds to buy communications equipment from companies, including Huawei, that are “posing national security risks” to American networks.“Companies like Huawei and its affiliates pose a significant threat to America’s commercial and security interests because a lot of communications providers rely heavily on their equipment”, the lawmakers claimed.
US’ Clampdown on Huawei
In a separate development last month, the House passed the National Defence Authorisation Act for 2020, which specifically includes measures against Huawei, severely limiting the US Commerce Secretary’s ability to remove the Chinese tech giant from the so-called Entities List.
The blacklisting, that was announced by the Department of Commerce last May, marked the beginning of the Washington’s crackdown on Huawei, which envisaged the banning of the company’s equipment from being supplied to the US.
Washington also severely limited US companies' ability to sell software and components to the Chinese tech giant, requiring them to get special permissions to do so.The White House justified the move by accusing the company of leaving backdoors in its products to enable surveillance by the Chinese government, allegations that both Beijing and Huawei reject.
Washington refuses to cooperate with Huawei in the construction of its 5G networks, urging all of its allies to follow suit. While some countries, including Germany and France, have rejected Washington's calls, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have bowed to US pressure and barred the tech giant from taking part in the development of their 5G infrastructure.