Huawei Continues To Deny US Espionage Allegations

Huawei has once again denied it is spying for the Chinese government and has published a cyber security white paper designed to address the concerns most commonly voiced by the US. In the UK, where such concerns are more muted, it has opened a £124 million research and development establishment.

In April, Huawei said it had abandoned any hope it had of growing its presence in the US, which has long accused the networking giant of being a security threat to companies and individuals.

In its second white paper on the matter, the Chinese firm discussed how to make cyber security a part of a company’s DNA and called for common international cyber security standards to be agreed upon and implemented globally.

We’re not spying, honest

“At Huawei, when we consider security, we do not just consider addressing yesterday’s problems, or even the problems we experience today, rather, we focus equally on laying down the foundations for securing tomorrow’s world, a world that is dramatically different to what it is today,” said Huawei global cyber security officer, and former UK government CIO John Suffolk.

“It is with an eye to the future that we recognise and embrace the need for international industry standards for cyber security,” he said. “Our most modest hope is that this white paper serves as a catalyst for broader, collaborative and rationally-informed public-private dialogue to meet common cyber security goals and objectives.”

“It is time to press the reset button on the security challenge and ask ourselves if we wish the future to be different from the past, and indeed today, in what way will we work together to define and agree new norms of behaviour, new standards, new laws and create a new realism in the balance between privacy and security,” he said.

“Huawei will continue to work with governments, customers and other stakeholders to meet their cyber security assurance requirements in an open, collaborative and transparent way,” said Suffolk. “We believe it is only by working together internationally, as vendors, customers and policy and law makers, will we make a substantial difference in addressing the global cyber security challenge.”

Western concerns

Huawei has faced an uphill struggle to convince Western governments that its equipment poses no security risk to critical national infrastructure. Antipathy is particularly strong in the US, while Australia  has banned the use of Huawei equipment, despite the firm offering up its source code and equipment for inspection.,

In Britain, the Intelligence and Security Committee raised concerns about how the UK checks Huawei kit in June, and a month later the Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser revealed the Cabinet Office would carry out a review of a Huawei operated centre.

However, Huawei has employed a number of former British government employees over the last few years, including Suffolk and some from GCHQ, and relations here are more cordial.

UK investment

Huawei has pledged to invest £1.3 billion in the UK as part of an ongoing relationship. Last week, the firm revealed details of a new R&D centre to be opened in the UK, while George Osborne visited Huawei HQ in Shenzhen and chaired a meeting of UK high-tech companies visiting China.

It should be noted that Huawei already runs a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in the UK, which was established in late 2010 and is being used to test the security of network products of Huawei and its partners.

The new R&D centre, the location of which will be announced at a later stage, will receive a $200 million (£124m) investment, and will focus on research on optoelectronics, device design and other fields. Huawei said it will employ 300 UK staff in high-tech R&D positions by 2017. Currently, Huawei employs over 80 R&D engineers in its existing UK R&D office in Ipswich.

“One of the most exciting opportunities for collaboration between Britain and China in the next step of our relationship is between our cutting edge, high-tech companies,” said the Chancellor George Osborne. “So I am delighted to be visiting Huawei’s headquarters with leaders of some of Britain’s most entrepreneurial tech companies to welcome Huawei’s investment into the UK.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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