US fears over the security of Huawei’s network equipment bubbled to the surface once more, with reports Congress sought to block a potential 5G infrastructure deal in South Korea.
Three US politicians in December urged then Defence Secretary Ash Carter to probe the potential implications on the security of Korea-based US military personnel if the government there awarded Huawei the contract. The trio – Congressman Steve Chabot, and Senators Mark Kirk and John Cornyn – cited Huawei’s links to China’s government as the reason for their concern, Pulse News reported.
The news site noted Huawei holds only one known deal with South Korea as a whole, in the form of a network equipment partnership agreement covering the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. The China-headquartered vendor also worked with operator LG Uplus on narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) Pulse News reported, and the pair also previously collaborated on LTE-Advanced.
Huawei consistently denied having ties with the Chinese government during a previous US probe. The accusations – then and now – appear to stem from the fact Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei (pictured) is a former Chinese army officer.
In October 2012 Huawei and domestic rival ZTE slammed calls made in a draft report by the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee for their US operations to be restricted due to their links to China’s government.
At the time Huawei said the US authorities had failed to “provide clear information or evidence to substantiate the legitimacy of the Committee’s concerns,” and criticised the Committee for rebuffing its attempts to clarify its ownership and management structures.
The vendor previously accused the US of resurrecting 1950s McCarthy-style witch hunts over the government’s attempts to block its business in the country.
In addition to the US concerns over the security of Huawei’s equipment, the government also accused the vendor of receiving illegal state subsidies which enabled it to undercut international rivals.
The subsidies accusation appears to have sparked a European Commission (EC) probe into the practices of Chinese vendors in the region, which the Commission closed in 2014.