White House clears Huawei of spy claims


blog Well, well. Seems as though there just still isn’t any evidence apart from rumours and innuendo that Chinese networking giant Huawei is involved in espionage for the Chinese Government or military, and now some rather large players are finally coming out in public to say so. Reuters reports (we recommend you click here for access to the whole article):

“A White House-ordered review of security risks posed by suppliers to U.S. telecommunications companies found no clear evidence that Huawei Technologies Ltd had spied for China, two people familiar with the probe told Reuters.”

Despite the fact that a number of organisations, such as the Australian Security & Intelligence Organisation in Australia and various Canadian, US and UK authorities continue to have concerns about Huawei — concerns which led in Australia to the company’s ban from tendering for contracts with the National Broadband Network Company — no credible evidence has yet been presented publicly that the company is engaged in espionage activities, and Huawei has been engaged in a constant battle over the past several years to clear its name in this area. The security agencies concerned have consistently declined to provide evidence in public to back their concerns about the company.

Huawei has strongly denied that any undue influence exists on its commercial operations. In addition, no technical proof of any so-called ‘backdoors’ in Huawei’s infrastructure has ever been presented in public. The company continues to be a key supplier of networking equipment to major Australian telcos such as Optus and Vodafone, and the company has also conducted trials of its equipment with Telstra. Other Australian telcos it works with include AAPT, vividwireless, Primus and TPG. Huawei is also gradually becoming a major consumer electronics brand in Australia (as it is in China), and has retail partnerships with giant local firms such as Woolworths. The company is believed to have approximately 600 staff based in Australia.

In an attempt to defray the allegations and demonstrate its commitment to Australia, in June last year Huawei appointed former Labor Victorian Premier John Brumby and former Liberal Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to its local board, along with retired navy rear admiral John Lord as its local chairman. The news marked the first time Huawei has created a local board with three independent directors anywhere in the world, according to the company. In addition, the company has opened its manufacturing facilities and software code to external scrutiny and audit.

Image credit: Huawei


  1. Not that I agreed with the Huawei NBN ban but now that the USA has “cleared” them does that mean it’s OK for Australia to lift the ban? Surely we have security concerns of our own or do we just adopt the ones dictated to us by America? We will soon find out…

  2. Some of that article however, states that no one is suggesting there isn’t serious possibilities and scope for Huawei to do exactly that- after all, several gaping holes have been found in their security of various products and several backdoors as well. Article 12 of the Chinese State allows them to interfere with ANY Chinese company, essentially giving a conduit for such espionage.

    I’m not suggesting we should automatically disclude all Chinese businesses. But Huawei has bounced back and forth from being open to being mute on certain questions.

    I’m still in favour of the Huawei ban on the NBN though.

  3. Lol – I find it interesting everyone can go Huawei for spying but there is nothing ever said about US giants like Cisco, google, microsoft or even oracle do not engage in it now.

    It seems like the usa is not interested in competition weather it be better technology or spying abilities!

    • I recon, all this talk from America about Huawei, and they only have to look in their own back yard to find that they are doing it to their own people, and the rest of the world (thanks Google).
      I hope Australia lifts the ban on them.

    • So, to be fair and allow proper competition, the US should allow China the potential to spy, because the US does it too?

      Also, I believe the White House source stated that while there was no evidence of spying, crtitical security flaws were found that Hauwei were unable to adequately explain, so there was no proof of it not occuring either, leading to the US to come to the decision they did.

      Is it paranoid? Yes. But the burden is on Hauwei to prove the security flaws weren’t baked in, not for the US to prove that they were.

      • “So, to be fair and allow proper competition, the US should allow China the potential to spy, because the US does it too?”

        The point should be that the potential exists regardless of what country/company it is. America probably feels a lot safer sticking with US companies, but Australia should be careful of both China and the US companies (US companies mainly thanks the the Patriot Act).

        • I agree that Australia should be careful of equipment sourced from either of the two countries.

          I was attempting to point out (poorly!) that arguing that the US are being hypocritical and are some how in the wrong here, because they won’t allow foreign powers to spy on their citizens, while doing the same themselves, is ridiculous.

          (Before anyone points it out, I know there’s no proof of spying, I was speaking hypothetically from the point of view of a paranoid American)

  4. Doesn’t the Patriot Act allow (and in some circumstances, require) US companies to hand over any data they have to the US government? I’d like to see the US deal with the log in its own eye as well as the mote in China’s.

  5. Comparisons between “spying” between Chinese and US, for US and riotous laughter at the double standard misses a salient point.

    There are Acts and Laws around US Agencies collecting intelligence regarding it’s citizens and residents. Granted they may not be overly palatable, or even well defined, and may well be breached on occasion – but they do exist.

    This is in contrast to China or any other country performing intelligence within US borders; or leveraging third parties to do so.

    That never seems to go down well. Funnily enough. Paranoia does that, I guess? It’s a similar deal here.

    Hauwei have had some questions raised around certain security related concerns, and actions, they have yet to really respond to.

    Is this all a bit melodramatic? Sure. Welcome to politics and the bizarre world of intelligence.

      • “The US may (or may not now) have strong laws regarding spying on it’s own citizens”

        *cough* wot

        I’m sorry, but isn’t the US Government the prime example of an organisation constantly spying on its own citizens, in every way legally possible, and many ways illegally possible?

        • And just in case that wasn’t enough, I’m pretty sure US Courts have just decided they will no longer hear challenges to the constitutional validity of US wiretapping laws, regardless of the legality of the laws.

        • Which comments may be true and relevant to present or past acts of Huawei, but they presage nothing about its future acts.

          If you would not voluntarily tell your neighbour anything to your own disadvantage, there is little point in not making sure that there is no *potential*—and potential is the salient point in this brouhaha—for your neighbour to *discover* anything to your disadvantage.


  6. Huawei is still controlled by the chinese govt and the chinese govt is still a totalitarian system, nothings changed, despite their facade of capitalism…

    you have to be crazy to build your national infrastructure with their product.

  7. the key difference here really isnt about privacy, everyone spies, everyone cheats…no big deal.

    The key difference is how government responds.

    In greece there are riots, few people are killed, if one is, its a big deal. It can even cause the govt to be thrown out.

    In china, if same riots/protest happen, you would not even hear about it, most of the people would just vanish.

    That is what you are dealing with, dont ever forget that.

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