Given the typically close cooperation between the United States and Britain on security issues, the trans-Atlantic divide over Huawei and another Chinese equipment provider, ZTE, is striking. On Monday, the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives branded the companies security threats and raised the possibility that their gear could be used to spy on American interests if used in U.S. telecommunications networks.
Huawei has rejected the allegations as “little more than an exercise in China bashing and misguided protectionism.”
By contrast, said Roland Sladek, a spokesman for Huawei, “Europe is almost like a second home market for us.”
And for good reason. Huawei means jobs and investment for Britain and, more broadly, for Europe. The company already has 800 employees in Britain and a research center in Ipswich. The investment announced by Mr. Ren is expected to create 700 jobs in five years and additional technical centers in the country. In all, the company has about 7,300 employees in Europe.
At the same time, Reuters’ Paul Sandle reports that Britain is scrutinizing Huawei’s relationship with its largest telecom operator, BT Group:
Huawei established an cyber security evaluation centre in Britain two years ago with security-cleared staff to test the company’s hardware and software to ensure it can withstand any cyber security threats.
The government said the centre helped ensure the security of Britain’s telecom networks.
“The evaluation centre obviously works very closely with UK government security specialists, and that allows us to satisfy ourselves as well that the equipment coming into the UK meets our standards,” a government Cabinet Office spokesman said.
Rifkind, however, said the committee would look at why the centre was needed, how it was working, and what conclusions could be drawn from the way it was operating.
See also previous CDT coverage of Huawei, including the report released this week by the U.S. House of Representatives which asserts that the Chinese telecom giant could potentially pose a national security threat.