A U.S. congressional report released Oct. 8, which dissuades U.S. businesses from buying equipment from Huawei or ZTE, has prompted “dozens and dozens” of calls from present and past employees and customers detailing what they called suspicious equipment behavior, a staff member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee told Reuters. Most of the complaints were about Huawei.
In a report issued after an 11-month investigation, the House committee said neither firm has adequately answered concerns broached continually by lawmakers over the capability of the companies to spy on American companies or individuals. Neither Huawei nor ZTE convinced the committee they could not be swayed by the Chinese government to assist in its espionage efforts.
“Neither company was willing to provide sufficient evidence to ameliorate the Committee’s concerns,” the committee report reads. “Neither company was forthcoming with detailed information about its formal relationships or regulatory interaction with Chinese authorities. Neither company provided specific details about the precise role of each company’s Chinese Communist Party Committee.”
The report also recommends the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), a government panel that scrutinizes foreign contracts for security issues, to oppose future business dealings concerning Huawei or ZTE and U.S. firms.
“We have to be certain that Chinese telecommunication companies working in the United States can be trusted with access to our critical infrastructure,” says committee chairman Mike Rogers. “Any bug, beacon, or backdoor put into our critical systems could allow for a catastrophic and devastating domino effect of failures throughout our networks.”
Huawei and ZTE have both refuted the claims. China’s Commerce Ministry said the U.S. committee had “made groundless accusations against China.”
Canada announced Tuesday it would bar Huawei from firms permitted to build a secure Canadian government communications network, due to potential security risks.
Huawei, in just 25 years, has become the largest manufacturer of fourth generation communication networks, known as 4G, the latest technology for moving high volumes of phone calls, data, and high definition video. The company produces everything from Smartphones to routers.
Huawei, headquartered in Shenzhen, not far from Hong Kong, is a private company that, apparently, is owned by its 140,000 employees.
ZTE is a Chinese multi-national telecommunications equipment and systems company. It is also located in Shenzhen. It is the world’s fifth-largest telecoms equipment maker and the world’s fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer.
ZTE was founded in 1985 by a group of state-owned enterprises associated with China’s Ministry of Aerospace.