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Lots of innuendo but zero evidence

Why Huawei is a convenient scapegoat for an insecure Washington

Washington has Huawei in its crosshairs. For years, the US government has repeated unsubstantiated claims that the company poses a national security threat – although in the three decades since Huawei’s founding, no one has produced any evidence that Huawei’s products have ever been compromised.  

With a few small exceptions, Huawei has been effectively prevented from selling its network switching
equipment, and even its consumer devices, such as smartphones, in the US market. But its products
are widely available elsewhere in the world, including in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. About
500 of the world’s top telecoms companies and millions of consumers around the world trust Huawei
products. So do more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, which use Huawei equipment in their
corporate data networks.  

Network is a critical issue, and Huawei addresses security concerns from governments and customers in a variety of ways. For example, we  have set up testing facilities where customers and independent third-party experts can examine our products. Huawei gives these experts access to our source code and hardware schematics. As a result, we have become the most audited and inspected company in the entire information and communications technology (ICT) industry. No other vendor of telecoms equipment offers such transparency.

Why, then, is the US up in arms? If Washington is truly concerned that Beijing could force Chinese companies to spy for them, then the issue clearly extends beyond a single company. Apple’s iPhone is made in China. Nokia, Ericsson, and Cisco have joint ventures in China, or use Chinese-manufactured components. China could just as easily direct the partners or suppliers of these companies to insert compromised elements into their products. So far, however, no US Congressman has suggested a ban on the iPhone.

The peremptory conclusion is that all of the supposition and innuendo being thrown at Huawei by the US government is based not on genuine concerns about technology or security, but rather on a change in the US political climate, and a growing fear that American has fallen behind China in developing 5G technology. In response, the US has launched a global campaign to persuade its allies to block Huawei from participating in their 5G networks. This has little to do with real security concerns, and everything to do with the desire to suppress a rising technological competitor.

Lynette Ong, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, was recently quoted by Gizmodo as saying “The US definitely sees up-and-coming competition, and it is rolling out all the strategies possible to impeach the growth of its competitors.” Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with California-based market research firm Creative Strategies, also told Gizmodo that “the extra scrutiny Huawei has been under as of late has to do with the political environment between China and the US as well as the high-stakes around AI and 5G.”

Capitalist countries like the United States understand that competition drives innovation and progress. That’s why they typically let the market determine economic winners and losers, rather than the government. Indeed, Huawei is good for the ICT industry, providing competition that helps advance 5G technology.  The company is good for the economy, too: We plan to spend more than US$50 billion over the next five years buying products and services from around the world.

Many companies believe that the rollout of 5G will take longer and cost more if Huawei is removed from the process. As the Wall Street Journal points out, “leading the way [in 5G] does matter for a country’s economy, if the race to 4G is a guide. If the US hadn’t led the way on 4G, the country might not dominate mobile technology, and its platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat and perhaps even Facebook and Netflix might not have become global powers.”

Huawei has succeeded because customers and consumers like our products – and trust them. If evidence against Huawei exists, the US should present it. But given the current anti-Huawei onslaught from Washington, one must to assume that if there were solid evidence against the company, Washington would have publicized it by now.  

No matter how the current situation plays out, Huawei has spent the last three decades creating innovative technology and establishing trusted relationships with our customers and other partners. We will continue to work with governments, telecom operators, and enterprise customers to build the best, and most secure, networks in the world.