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LinkAsia | Oct 12
The House Intelligence Committee has released a report documenting their fears that Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE pose a national securi...
To tell us more about the Intelligence Committee's accusations, we're joined by Arik Hesseldahl, senior editor on the website All Things Digital. Thanks for coming on LinkAsia, Arik. There are accusations, but no smoking gun. Does that puzzle you?
No, it doesn't puzzle me and here's precisely why. I think it's more a question of suspicion. Primarily I think a lot of suspicion arises from the fact that the US is well acquainted, although it can't really admit to it pubclicly, is well acquainted with what can be done. The most recent case that I cited in my piece for 'All Things D' was Stuxnet, the malware that was installed in the Iranian nuclear research program through, as far as everyone knows, through the auspices of the United States and Israel. So, I think the suspicions arise from the fact that the U.S. is well acquainted as a very good practitioner of cyberspionage, cybersabotage, and now cyberwarfare.
Do Huawei and ZTE have any kind of record of espionage that would prompt national security concerns?
Well, espionage and sabotage, maybe no, we don't have any smoking guns. Now, I say that with the caveat of not having seen the classified portions of the House Committees report. Whatever those things contain, and I've never- you know I don't have classified clearance, but I can suspect that there's probably some things that are legitimately raising concerns on the part of members of congress. They don't do this lightly. There have been cases where ZTE, in particular, has been connected to sales in Iran that have been connected to other US companies. Cisco took the step of severing its ties with ZTE this week because of sales in Iran. And there have been claims that some of the ZTE equipment has been used by the Iranian regime to spy on people who are marching against the regime, opposed to the regime there.
Has the Chinese government responded angrily or do they seem to be taking the report in stride?
I think the Chinese response so far has been calm. I think its been primarily incumbent on Huawei and ZTE to a lesser extent to defend themselves and find legitimate points about which to criticize the report's findings and assumptions. Huawei needs to open up. There's no question about it. I mean, you know, its founder has never been interviewed, he's never been seen in public to the extent that I'm aware of. He's never been interviewed by any media outlet anywhere. So it's not from nowhere that these suspicions about secrecy and ties to the People's Liberation exist.
Thanks, Arik. Arik Hesseldahl is senior editor for the website All Things Digital. He joined us from New York.