LAWMAKERS URGE HUAWEI DEAL PROBE
Three Republican members of Congress are urging Defense Secretary Ash Carter to investigate the security risks to American facilities and military forces in South Korea posed by a Chinese telecommunications company’s role in a new wireless network in the country.
“The United States cannot risk having its sensitive or classified information compromised by foreign Chinese spyware that could provide a means for Chinese authorities to access American data,” Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Mark Kirk and Sen. John Cornyn stated in the Dec. 22 letter. Mr. Chabot chairs the House Small Business Committee. Mr. Kirk lost his re-election race in Illinois in November, but Mr. Cornyn of Texas is the Senate Republican whip.
The concerns are focused on Huawei Technologies, which has been linked to the Chinese military and intelligence services by the U.S. government.
According to the lawmakers, South Korea’s government is in “active discussions” with Huawei for a contract to build a nationwide 5G — for fifth generation — wireless network.
“Huawei has been under intense scrutiny from the U.S. government given its close ties to the Chinese government,” the lawmakers said, noting a 2012 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence probe that concluded that “Huawei may have deliberately incorporated vulnerabilities in its equipment that could be exploited by the Chinese military and security services,” according to the letter.
Additionally, the federal government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which monitors foreign acquisitions of U.S. assets, was urged by the committee to ban Huawei from government contracts.
“The findings of this report have led to a de facto ban on Huawei’s participation in major telecommunications projects in the United States and Australia,” the members said.
Huawei’s role in the South Korean network also raises cybersecurity concerns. The network will support “highly sensitive areas” such as U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic facilities, including an advanced telecommunications network in Jeju-do, an island off the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula, the congressmen said.
The lawmakers warned that allowing Huawei to take part in the network “presents potential security concerns about China’s increasing network penetration across sensitive areas of the East China Sea.”
The new 5G network also could give China access to thousands of internet-linked devices called the “Internet of Things” in the region. “As such U.S. military, intelligence, diplomatic or civilian personnel that connect to a Huawei-backed 5G network could have their data compromised,” they stated.
The letter also quoted former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, who warned that Huawei in the past has “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with.” The congressmen asked Mr. Carter to “investigate the cyber security implications of Huawei’s potential participation in the South Korea’s 5G network” and to raise the security concerns in discussions with South Korean leaders.
Huawei spokesman William Plummer said the company is a leading provider of telecommunications infrastructure equipment that is “worldproven and trusted.” Huawei gear is used in over 170 markets, including Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin and North America, he said.
“These are demonstrable facts,” he said. “These are not rumors, innuendo, hearsay, or any other type of groundless suggestions that cannot and have never been proven.”