Huawei: national security threat, or national commercial interest threat?

08.10.2012 - 15:55

Disclosure: I feel the need from the offset to state that like many other global companies, Huawei Technologies Ltd. is an advertising client of New Europe. While we have no relation with ZTE Corp, we do also work with other large American, European, and Russian companies in sectors which include technology.

The House Intelligence Committee in the US is in the process of issuing a report labelling Huawei an enemy of the state; or more correctly - they are said to pose a national security threat to the United States.

It is apparently recommended that the US government computer systems not include any components from Huawei or ZTE as they could pose an espionage risk. Apparently, this all comes in the fight to get tougher with China on abuses such as intellectual property theft.

Of course, we know it is not Huawei (or even the Chinese government) doing the intellectual property theft. At least to my knowledge, they have not been engaged in any Apple vs. Samsung type battles.

Huawei is the first Chinese company to come out of the woodwork, and break into the international arena for enterprise and government technology services. And while it should come as no surprise that there is blowback from this, the ‘don’t buy a Chinese-manufactured phone because it could be sending all your messages to the Chinese government’ reminds me a little bit of World War II propaganda.

The allegation that Huawei might be using its hardware to spy on the clients, is like saying that Porsches could have recording devices in them so that the German government can snoop in on rich powerful owners. More precisely, Vodafone could be spying and recording the phonecalls of a particular government. (Wait, didn’t that happen in Greece not too many years ago). Apple, obviously (sarcasm) tracks where its iPhone users are 24/7, and could record every phone call you’ve ever had (why do you think the battery runs out so quickly). Naturally, every built in webcam on every laptop - no matter what the brand - is also transmitting and storing the video somewhere for blackmail.

At some point, we as a society, have to decide, if we live in a globalised world, where we strive for peace, prosperity, and integration, or swing back around, perform a historical double u-turn.

I might be inclined to take a more cynical view. One where there are no saints; patriotism and national commercial interests trump a global market. Yes Huawei is a Chinese company. Much like Google’s biggest data ‘client’ is the US government; why should Huawei be considered criminal for working with the government of the country they are based in?

Huawei is offering jobs 140,000 jobs worldwide. If they are evil, crucify them. But drowning the suspected witch is a practice in humanity’s past (...unless national commercial interests start to be threated).