The West Still Divided Over Huawei Spy Threat Assessment

Advertisement
Advertisement

The West remains divided over assessing the spying threat posed by Huawei tech. Recent reports suggest that both U.S. allies and some of its officials are still unconvinced Huawei is such a massive liability.

For example, a UK government source recently described the issue as "manageable". Even some stateside members of the intelligence community agree with that sentiment. Few are voicing those opinions officially, however. That's unsuprising given how hard the White House has been cracking down on Huawei in recent years. Nonetheless, that lack of concrete opposition from within the U.S. also lowers the overall credibility of any opposition to the anti-Huawei policies pursued by the Trump administration.

The Shenzen-based conglomerate has long insisted it's a victim of geopolitical tensions completely outside its control. While many parties outside of the Far Eastern country agree, that isn't to say Huawei has many sympathizers among the U.S. and its allies. However, the Trump administration's zero-tolerance treatment of the firm's offerings is hardly a default position among Western governments.

Advertisement

The current state of affairs didn't come out of nowhere, either. Huawei has a long history of issues with both American companies and Washington itself. In very few of those cases were the optics overwhelmingly on the Chinese tech giant's side.

Spying threat or not, this status quo only benefits one side

Overblown or not, the hypothetical spying threat posed by Huawei is all the more relevant in this day and age. With the fifth generation of wireless gaining traction, a security misstep in 5G rollouts could have disastrous consequences.

U.S. officials used that reasoning to justify anti-Huawei policies enacted since 2018. Regulatory oversight and restrictions Washington enforced in this period already delivered some massive blows to the company.

Advertisement

For the time being, however, Huawei remains too big to fail. Its presence in China alone is enough to see it report growth even during these turbulent times. But, as the U.S. keeps inviting more scrutiny over the firm, its core businesses are looking at a long-term decline.

Accusations of Chinese intelligence collusion are now more prevalent than ever. It's basically irrelevant whether substantial evidence favoring either side ever emerges. The fact Huawei's now having every aspect of its tech scrutinized by countless regulators is enough to slow down its global ambitions.

If the U.S. manages to maintain that pressure until the bulk of 5G rollouts is completed worldwide, irreparable damage to Huawei will already be done. Of course, that dovetails with the ongoing trade-related tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Advertisement

The former still insists its anti-Huawei policies exclusively revolve around (inter)national security and not trade. Needless to say, the Far Eastern party keeps insisting that stance is dishonest.