Agencies-AFP and digital soft power: US Congress report seen by world’s top and fourth ranked telecomms companies as ‘China Bashing‘ in a liminal space where network society vulnerabilities in the telecommunications supply chain are examined.
Click here for a PDF copy of the report, hosted by WSJ.
ZTE, formerly Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation is a Shenzhen-based MNC telecomms equipment and systems maker is the world’s fourth largest mobile phone manufacturer by unit sales. Founded in 1985 by a group of SOEs with China’s Ministry of Aerospace, it can be hard to shake off the allusions manifesting in western critical discourse.
Indeed Huawei too, was founded by former military officer Ren Zhengfei (click for Forbes profile) having spent a decade in the PLA engineering corps.
These associations, though telling, must also factor in the fact that in pre-opening up China, the military was the most sure-fire way to get a strong-er foothold in socialist life then. It still remains an aspirant and express ticket to prosperity in the eyes of many Chinese contemporaries around my age.
The collective memory of a tried and tested path though SOE and the military still remain today. Perhaps I digress.
In a quick scan of dominant media, let us kick off with a response that is couched in a central theme of ‘fear‘ by the Global Times in the op-ed Why does US fear Chinese telecom giants? Washington is afraid that Chinese companies will bring competition and challenges to the US. Its lack of self-confidence is astonishing. Out of fear, the US is becoming oversensitive to China and even suspects equipment makers such as Huawei and ZTE. (October 9, 2012)
The report comes at a time when Huawei is struggling to establish its credentials in the US Political rhetoric against Beijing is intensifying as the US presidential election nears and as China gains clout in global affairs. Huawei and ZTE refute US lawmakers’ claims, Cisco cancels ZTE order (The Australian, October 9, 2012)
Huawei, in a statement, denied the allegations made in the report. “Unfortunately, the Committee’s report not only ignored our proven track record of network security in the United States and globally, but also paid no attention to the large amount of facts that we have provided.” The company also expressed concerns about trade protectionism. “We have to suspect that the only purpose of such a report is to impede competition and obstruct Chinese ICT companies from entering the US market.” Report Threatens Huawei’s Growth Plans
(Wall Street Journal Online, October 8, 2012)
More on ZTE’s mobile phone/data devices, carrier network solutions and enterprise communication operations in Australia here.
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Huawei calls US Congress report ‘China bashing’
Source – Sydney Morning Herald, October 9, 2012
Chinese tech giant Huawei on Monday called a congressional report warning of security risks from its telecom equipment “an exercise in China-bashing” as US lawmakers held firm to their allegations.
A US spokesman for Huawei said the report by the House Intelligence Committee which warned of national security risks from equipment from Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE was “utterly lacking in substance.”
“Huawei unequivocally denies the allegations in the report,” the spokesman, William Plummer, told reporters on a conference call.
Plummer said Huawei requested the congressional investigation a year ago in an effort to clear the air and help provide a better understanding of how the telecom equipment industry shares a “global supply chain” which may lead to security vulnerabilities.
“The report utterly ignores these facts and dismisses 10 months of open information sharing,” he said.
“This report is little more than an exercise in China-bashing and misguided protectionism.”
Plummer said that if the committee’s recommendations to block access to contracts and acquisitions for Huawei and ZTE are carried out, “it would set a monstrous market distorting precedent which could be used against American companies doing business overseas.”
And because rival vendors based in the US and Europe use much of the same components, he said the idea of blocking a single company to improve cybersecurity is “at best naive.”
The comments came as the Beijing government reacted to the report by urging Washington to “set aside prejudices” and “do things that will benefit China-US economic cooperation instead of the contrary.”
But US lawmakers, who officially released the report on Monday, remained adamant about the potential risks cited in the document.
“We have to be certain that Chinese telecommunication companies working in the United States can be trusted with access to our critical infrastructure,” said 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. As this report shows, we have serious concerns about Huawei and ZTE, and their connection to the communist government of China.”
Rogers said China “is known to be the major perpetrator of cyber espionage, and Huawei and ZTE failed to alleviate serious concerns throughout this important investigation. American businesses should use other vendors.”
Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking Democrat on the panel, echoed those comments, saying, “It is our responsibility on the Intelligence Committee to protect our country’s national security… As this report shows, we have serious concerns about Huawei and ZTE.”
Both Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly denied any ties with the Chinese government.
ZTE, in a statement published by China’s Xinhua news agency, said the committee used a “broad assumption” that any Chinese company must allow China’s government to direct or control business operations, but that ZTE would be “bound by US law,” if any request were made by Beijing.
The committee report said the two firms “cannot be trusted” to be free of influence from Beijing and could be used to undermine US security.
The panel launched its probe over concerns that China could use the fast-growing firms for economic or military espionage, or cyber attacks.
“Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems,” the document said.