Attendees inspect and photograph the new MediaPad M1 devices during a Huawei Technologies Co Ltd news conference ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in February. Huawei's products and solutions are used in more than 170 countries, serving about one-third of the global population. (Bloomberg)
Beijing wants a clear explanation from Washington over a report that the US National Security Agency infiltrated servers in the headquarters of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
China is seriously concerned about the spying allegations, Hong Lei, the spokesman, said at a regular briefing.
Huawei Technologies condemned the alleged infiltration, which was reported by The New York Times and the German magazine Der Spiegel over the weekend.
The reports were based on information provided by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who has, since last June, been revealing the agency's massive global surveillance programs, including claims it created "back doors" into networks maintained by Huawei.
Charles Ding, president of Huawei North America, said Huawei condemns initiatives to penetrate corporate networks, to monitor corporate emails and to steal proprietary information about its products in order to exploit those products in other networks.
"Like any other telecom company, Huawei is opposed to any action that threatens cybersecurity. We urge governments, industry and customers of all nations to work together to tackle the global challenge of cybersecurity," Ding said.
He said Huawei has maintained an excellent record in cybersecurity. "Like other companies, Huawei has persisted in thwarting outside attacks on our internal networks. We are further improving and strengthening our infrastructure," Ding said.
Huawei has some 150,000 employees across the world. Its products and solutions are used in more than 170 countries, serving about one-third of the global population.
"The security of our networks and our products is the highest priority for this company," William Plummer, Huawei's vice-president for external affairs, told China Daily on Sunday.
"This is an inflection point for the global technology industry. It's a call for action for all ICT (information and communications technology) leaders to rally around the common cause and that common cause is restoration of confidence in the information society."
Plummer added confidence in networks and the Internet and in the very fabric of the information society is collapsing because of these types of activities. He said Huawei has publicly communicated its commitment to working with its peers in a private and public partnership to develop standards and best practices in order to raise the security assurance bar and restore confidence in global networks.
"Now is the time for the industry to come together and develop mechanisms and make it harder for these kinds of activities to take place," Plummer said.
Plummer said Huawei is committed to its customers, employees and American company partners from which Huawei purchased almost one-third of its components.
The news about the attack against Huawei came just one day after US President Barack Obama met on Friday with US tech company executives, including Google Inc's Eric Schmidt, Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix Inc's Reed Hastings, Dropbox Inc's Drew Houston, Palantir Technologies Inc's Alex Karp and Box Inc's Aaron Levie. Many of them have publicly rebuked the NSA's alleged infringement through its massive global surveillance programs.
The Friday meeting did not seem to calm the anger. "While the US government has taken helpful steps to reform its surveillance practices, these are simply not enough," Facebook said in a statement after the meeting.
"People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook will keep urging the US government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties," the statement continued.
Huawei has long been a bogeyman for the US government and lawmakers in their attempt to vilify China as a source of cyber espionage.
In October 2012, a US House Intelligence Committee report advised US companies to avoid doing business with Huawei and ZTE Corp, another Chinese telecom giant, because of possible national security threats, an allegation unsubstantiated by evidence.
Huawei has dismissed the allegation as groundless. However, its business has been negatively affected over the years because of the concerns in the US.
Zhu Zhiqun, a professor of political science at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, said the US government likes to paint itself as the victim in cyber spying, especially between the US and China.
"But few people with common sense would doubt that the US intelligence has one of the most sophisticated and aggressive espionage networks around the world," he said.
"Earlier it was revealed the NSA spied on US allies such as Germany and its leaders. So the latest revelation that NSA spied on Huawei and Chinese leaders should not come as a surprise at all."
Zhu said the revelation is an embarrassment to those who singled out Huawei as the culprit. "It will be interesting to see how US officials, members of Congress and security experts defend the extensive US espionage in China and elsewhere," he said.
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