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Huawei Hits Back at Claims it Poses Security Threat

Huawei has hit back at reports claiming it is a national security risk, as the Czech republic joined a growing list of governments warning against using the firm’s equipment.

The Shenzhen giant’s chairman, Ken Hu, told reporters that such moves were driven by “ideology and geopolitics” and challenged the likes of the US government to provide proof to back up their claims.

“If you have proof or evidence, it should be made known,” he reportedly added. “Maybe not to Huawei and maybe not to the public, but to telecom operators, because they are the ones that buy Huawei.”

The US, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Japan have all banned Huawei products on security grounds to a lesser or greater extent. With the kit-maker set to play a key role in coming  critical infrastructure deployments of 5G, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

In the UK, BT recently confirmed that the Chinese firm is not included in its plans for 5G core.

However, Australian spy chief Mike Burgess has previously warned: “the distinction between core and edge collapses in 5G networks. That means that a potential threat anywhere in the network will be a threat to the whole network.”

The UK government has long had a more open approach to dealing with the telco giant, allowing access to its markets as long as equipment passes muster at an evaluation center paid for by Huawei and staffed by experts from GCHQ, among others.

But even here there have been bumps in the road: in July the center claimed it could provide “only limited assurance” that Huawei equipment poses no threat to national security.

Although Huawei claims it has never acceded to any government demands which would “damage the networks or business of any of our customers,” it’s the risk of this happening in future which seems to be driving skepticism outside of China.

“High-risk vendors have been banned from Australia’s 5G network because of the threat they pose when they could be subject to unbounded extrajudicial directions from a foreign government,” wrote Burgess recently.

Although the lack of competition may indeed push up prices and slow innovation, it may be a price governments are prepared to pay. The Czech Republic’s cybersecurity watchdog this week became the latest to warn against the firm.

“China’s laws...require private companies residing in China to cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat,” said Dusan Navratil, director of the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA).

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