Huawei Contradicts Report Saying It Cooperates With Chinese Military

Despite the evidence that Huawei cooperates with the Chinese military on various projects, Huawei is now saying it doesn't, contradicting Bloomberg's report yesterday.

In a CNBC interview, Huawei legal chief Song Liuping said that "As far as I know, we don't have military cooperation projects because we are a company dedicated to provide communications systems and (information and communications technology) solutions for civil use." In other words, Liuping tries to separate the civil sector from the government sector, claiming that Huawei is in something of a different field.

Reputable source Bloomberg did its homework to discover the Huawei employees cooperated with the Chinese Government on at least 10 research projects in the past decade or so, ranging from using AI to extract emotions from people in online videos to examining and analyzing satellite images and geographical coordinates.

Periodicals and databases were pulled showing research articles written by Huawei employees who used the company logo when publishing such articles, likely for identity verification. Additionally, the US has discovered that Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei himself worked on telecommunications work as a soldier in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) years ago.

Huawei and the PLA's response to it all is that one (tech giant Huawei) has little to nothing to do with the other (People's Liberation Army). Zhengfei said, "We have no cooperation with the military on research. Perhaps we sell them a small amount of civilian equipment. Just how much, I'm not clear on because we don't regard them as a core customer."

PLA Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe agrees. "Huawei is not a military company. Do not think that because the head of Huawei used to serve in the military, then the company that he built is part of the military," Fenghe responded.

And yet, the evidence says otherwise, despite Huawei's and the PLA's attempts to deny it. Why is it the case that those 10 research papers display the Huawei logo? If they're not linked, then why does it matter that a Huawei employee publishes a paper on telecommunications? The reason it matters is that Huawei employees are considered experts in telecommunications in China.

Beijing values their research, so much so that they are allowed to publish alongside military research experts. In the event one is planning a technological war, who would the Chinese Government turn to? The communications experts, Huawei being one of them in the country.

The Huawei logo is to Huawei employees what fingerprints are to everyone else: a sign of verification, that this person can be trusted because "they work for Huawei." The trust the Chinese Government has in Huawei is a bad sign, but it shows that Huawei and the Chinese Government aren't as distant as the comments above make them out to be.

Huawei has also said that it would not turn over data to the government, that it would not place backdoors into its devices even if it was asked to by the Chinese Government, but the company's words are just that: mere lip service. According to Chinese laws uncovered by CNBC, Huawei, as a societal entity in China, must surrender to the government when asked with no choice to disagree.

The 2017 National Intelligence Law in China states that "any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law" and that the state "supports" those who cooperate, whether individual or organization.

The 2014 Counter-Espionage law says that "when the state security organ investigates and understands the situation of espionage and collects relevant evidence, the relevant organizations and individuals shall provide it truthfully and may not refuse." In the case of Chinese espionage in the US, should Huawei sell its networking gear and mobile to Americans, Huawei would be forced to turn over all American user data to Beijing without saying a word.

Even in the US, Google, Facebook, and Apple, all tech giants, cannot refuse to assist the government in telecommunications should a request be made. They can't even refuse the government if the government requests their court appearance. Why then, would Huawei be able to refuse Beijing or have no dealing with Beijing when it has thrived in China, a dictatorial country where the government controls everything, including the media, the newspapers, and the wireless industry?

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About the Author

Deidre Richardson

Staff News Writer
Deidre Richardson is a tech lover whose insatiable desire for all things tech has kept her in tech journalism some eight years now. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned BA degrees in both History and Music. Since graduating from Carolina in 2006, Richardson obtained a Master of Divinity degree and spent four years in postgraduate seminary studies. She's written five books since 2017 and all of them are available at Amazon. You can connect with Deidre Richardson on Facebook.