Huawei has emphatically denied US allegations of espionage in what is its most public and provocative rejection to date.
The company has largely been excluded from the US’s telecoms infrastructure on national security fears, while other nations have also expressed concern in recent months. It has also been reported that the US has been urging allies to follow its lead.
The fears are largely founded on Huawei’s perceived links to the Chinese government and a belief that legislation requires firm’s in China to assist in state surveillance.
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Speaking at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona this week, Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said that Huawei’s networking products were the most advanced in the world, but its innovations would be useless unless it ensured they were secure.
“Of course, the past few months have been a challenge for us. On one hand, our 5G solutions are widely recognised in the industry,” he said. “On the other hand, there has been a lot of speculation about the security of our 5G solutions.
“With 5G, we have made a lot of progress over 4G, and we can proudly say that 5G is safer than 4G. As vendors, we don't operate carrier networks, and we don't own carrier data. Our responsibility, what we promise, is that we don't do bad things.”
“Here, let me say this as clearly as possible: Huawei has not and will never plant backdoors. And we will never allow anyone to do so in our equipment. We take this responsibility very seriously.”
Ping also addressed the US allegations specifically, stating there was no evidence that its kit was insecure to use and also referenced previous US state surveillance programmes as proof of hypocrisy
“The US security accusation on our 5G has no evidence, nothing,” he declared. “The irony is that the US Cloud Act allows their governmental entities to access data across borders.
“Prism, prism on the wall. Who’s the most trustworthy of them all? It’s an important question to ask. And if you don’t understand this question, go ask Edward Snowden.”
Ping urged governments around the world to adopt unified cybersecurity standards that can be used for honest regulation. He suggested the European model should be adopted worldwide.
“To build a secure cyber environment for everyone, we need standards, we need fact-based regulation, and we need to work together,” he said. “[We need] to build a system that we all can trust, we need aligned responsibilities, unified standards, and clear regulation.
“Governments and mobile operators should work together to agree upon Europe's assurance testing and certification regime. NESAS is a very good idea and I would recommend extending it to the world.”
There is little appetite among operators for any ban as they fear it would increase prices and reduce innovation. So far it claims to have shipped more than 47,000 5G base stations and to have won more than 30 commercial contracts.
In the UK, Huawei serves nearly all of the major operators and is expected to play a major role in the launch of 5G. The use of its equipment is subject to monitoring by a dedicated GCHQ unit.
- MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.