Huawei would accept EU 'supervision'

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Huawei has said it is willing for its equipment and activities to be supervised by the European Union (EU) as it continues to fend off the threat of restrictions on the use of its kit in 5G networks.

Last year it emerged the US, which has long frozen out the company from its own telecommunications infrastructure, had been encouraging other western nations to take similar action.

The main basis for Washington’s fears is a perception that Huawei is linked to the Chinese government and that the use of the company’s equipment risks the possibility of backdoors that could be used for espionage. These fears are heightened by 5G because of the sensitive information these networks will carry.

The US is concerned that if its allies continue to use Huawei kit, then America’s security will be threatened.

Huawei EU

This rhetoric has stepped up in the past week, with US officials holding talks with the EU in Brussels and there are plans for similar discussions with national governments. Meanwhile there have been reports the EU is considering a de facto ban.

Now, Abraham Liu, Huawei’s chief representative to EU institutions, has used a speech to mark the Chinese New Year to repeat the company’s denials and to stress its willingness to cooperate with the EU and European governments.

“Cybersecurity should remain as a technical issue instead of an ideological issue. Because technical issues can always be resolved through the right solutions while ideological issue cannot,” he is quoted as saying.

“We are always willing to accept the supervision and suggestions of all European governments, customers and partners.”

A number of European nations, including the UK and Germany, have expressed concern about the use of Huawei equipment in their telecoms infrastructure, however earlier this week, France rejected proposals that would increase checks.

Huawei denials

In the UK, Huawei is a key partner for many telcos and is already subject to monitoring by a specialist unit. The unit’s most recent report cited a lack of progress in addressing previous concerns, but Huawei has promised to remedy this with a $2 billion investment over five years.

The Shenzhen-based company has continually rejected claims that its kit is a security threat, pointing out that it sells products to more than 500 operators in 170 countries without issue, while no evidence of its supposed threat had ever been produced.

“Our solid track record in security is our strongest evidence [against the security allegations],” said Ryan Ding, the head of Huawei’s carrier business group. “The governments in some countries have labelled Huawei as a security threat, but they have never substantiated these allegations with solid evidence.”

“We would like to reiterate that Huawei has never received any such requests [from the Chinese government] and in the event we did … we would categorically refuse to comply with it. Huawei is a closely watched company. Were Huawei ever to engage in malicious behaviour, it would not go unnoticed – and it would certainly destroy our business.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.