Huawei has denied allegations made by a former CIA director that it spied for the Chinese government, while on Thursday (18 July) the UK government said it would review the supplier’s involvement in its Cyber Security Evaluation Centre.
Huawei is a “proven and trusted” information and communications technology company, spokesman Scott Sykes said in an e-mailed statement quoted by Bloomberg.
The Chinese supplier was responding to comments made by Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA, to the Australian Financial Review.
Hayden, who now works for Motorola Solutions, is quoted by the Australian Financial Review as saying that it was his “professional judgment” that the firm supplied intelligence to China.
Scott Sykes, head of international media affairs for Huawei, told the BBC that Hayden’s remarks were “sad distractions from real-world concerns related to espionage – industrial and otherwise – that demand serious discussion globally”.
Huawei, according to the BBC report, described the former CIA chief’s remarks as “unsubstantiated” and “defamatory”.
The Chinese supplier’s spat with Hayden comes only a day after the UK government said it would examine the operations of Huawei’s UK cybersecurity centre – known as the Cell – set up in the UK three years ago
The announcement comes barely a month after a UK parliamentary security committee produced a report highly critical of what it saw as the lax manner in which China’s Huawei was allowed to get “embedded” in the UK’s critical national infrastructure (CNI).
The Cell, designed to test equipment and alleviate security concerns, did not escape criticism from the committee. “We question why the Cell is only now approaching full functionality, over seven years after the BT contract was awarded,” says the report. “Given these delays and the lack of evidence so far that it will be able to provide the level of security assurance required, we recommend that the National Security Adviser conducts a substantive review of the effectiveness of the Cell as a matter of urgency.”
Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese supplier, have been under growing pressure from national authorities regarding security issues.
In the US, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) recently published a scathing assessment of Huawei’s reliability in an ‘Investigative Report on the US National Security Issues Posed by Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE’. The report concluded that “the risks associated with Huawei and ZTE’s provision of equipment to US critical infrastructure could undermine core US national-security interests”.
Moreover, the Australian Government has decided, reportedly on national security grounds, to exclude Huawei from involvement in their National Broadband Network, a similar upgrade project to that being pursued in the UK by BT.