The U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee has its collective eye on Chinese electronics firms Huawei and ZTE. A draft congressional report from the committee goes so far as to label the two companies as potential threats to U.S. national security after an 11-month investigation.
The Committee believes that both firms are potential espionage threats after the companies failed to produce documents regarding their interaction with the Chinese government. 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.”
If the implied warnings were not enough, the Committee took it an extra step by adding, “U.S. network providers and system developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects.” Committee chairman Mike Rogers spelled it out even further on the television program 60 Minutes. Rogers urges U.S. companies to “find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property; if you care about your consumers’ privacy and you care about the national security of the United States of America.”
Huawei especially drew the attention of the Committee. Apprently, “industry experts and current and former Huawei employees” provided evidence that pointed to corruption, bribery, and copyright infringement.
Both companies denied the report’s findings today. Huawei called the Committee’s work “baseless” and a “dangerous political distraction,” and ZTE “profoundly disagrees” with the report.
Huawei and ZTE are producers of Android smartphones as well as networking equipment, including routers. Both companies are hoping to grow their market presence in the United States, as they already have strong showings internationally.
Of course, if it all turns out that the Intelligence Committee’s findings are completely wrong, then this certainly will not help to improve American / Chinese relationships. On the other hand, an espionage device in every hand of a significant percentage of the U.S. population is worth taking a few political risks to avoid.