Huawei ready to work with foreign nations to ease security concerns

04, Sep. 2019

(Huawei Technologies Co. Senior Vice President John Suffolk pictured on Sept. 3, 2019 during in an interview with Kyodo News.)
(Huawei Technologies Co. Senior Vice President John Suffolk pictured on Sept. 3, 2019 during in an interview with Kyodo News.)

By Tomoyuki Tachikawa

SHENZHEN, Kyodo - Huawei Technologies Co., China's tech giant, is ready to work together with foreign nations to eliminate security concerns, a company executive said Tuesday, amid lingering anxiety that its products may facilitate spying.

While pledging to take security measures, depending on the situation in each country, Huawei would, if necessary, make its source code available to other nations, Senior Vice President John Suffolk said in an interview with Kyodo News.

He also emphasized that the company has not received any request by the Chinese government to share confidential information, again brushing aside rumors that Huawei has engaged in spying activities.

“We are open to have the conversation about what is the right model” to verify the security of Huawei products, Suffolk said at one of the firm's facilities in Dongguan, adding, “And if the source code is the right model, then we'll work out how best to do that.”

He said Huawei has so far provided its source code for countries including Britain, Canada and Germany, but stressed that different nations have different ways of evaluating the safety of Huawei goods.

Huawei has proposed that Japan alone should assess the security of products and services of the manufacturer, while vowing to disclose its source code to Tokyo, a Japanese government source said.

“Each individual country should validate by themselves,” Suffolk said, adding, “There is not one model of validation that all of our customers would accept.”

His remarks came as the U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump has been pushing its allies, such as Japan, to exclude Huawei -- a leader in next-generation 5G mobile communications networks -- from government contracts.

No evidence has been found to confirm that the Chinese government has stolen confidential information from abroad through products of Huawei, which was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the Chinese military.

Suffolk quoted Ren as saying, “If ever he was asked by the Chinese government to do something that he thought was inappropriate, like handing over data or building back doors, he would blankly refuse to do that. If he was pressurized to do that, he would close the company down.”

But fears about espionage by Chinese firms are unlikely to fade anytime soon, given that the government and enterprises have close links in China, a country that is effectively ruled by the Communist Party alone, foreign affairs experts say.

Trump, who has pursued protectionist policies as part of an “America First” agenda, has, meanwhile, voiced wariness over Beijing's rise in state-of-the-art technologies, with Washington having targeted Chinese goods related to them in their trade dispute.

“It isn't a security debate. It's a political issue. And it's not for us to say what is driving that political decision,” Suffolk said. “The only thing I would say to people is governments should make decisions that are in the best interest of their citizens, not another country.”

“If a country feels pressurized to make a decision to please America, that's not bettering the advancement of their citizens,” he said.

With speculation growing that Huawei could be blocked from accessing globally used Android systems operated by U.S. technology firm Google LLC, it announced early last month that it has developed its own operating system.

“When we created Harmony OS, it was not for the smartphone. It was predominantly for smart devices like IoT (Internet of things) and smart TVs,” Suffolk said.

“In an ideal world, we would prefer to continue to use Android on our smartphones. We have worked heavily with Google for the last 10 years,” he said. But if Washington closes down access to it, “we will look at Harmony OS...to make sure it will run on our smartphones.”

The 5G technology will enable transmission of large amounts of data at extremely high speeds, allowing telecommunication devices to connect to almost all products and services, including those related to military affairs, through the wireless network.

Gist of interview

Huawei:

―― is ready to work together with foreign nations to eliminate security concerns.

―― would, if necessary, make its source code available to other nations.

―― has not received any request by Chinese government to share confidential information.

―― has so far provided source code for countries including Britain, Canada and Germany.

―― hopes governments “make decisions that are in the best interest of their citizens, not another country.”

―― will look at its own Harmony OS to make sure it will run on its smartphones, if U.S. blocks Chinese firm's access to Google's Android systems. (Kyodo)

20190904_0006_1.jpg