US probe of Huawei gears near missile silos ‘old tricks to curb China devt’
Published: Jul 22, 2022 02:44 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A reported new probe by the US into Huawei based on so-called national security concerns is baseless, and the country is playing old tricks on Chinese firms - smearing and sanctions by abusing state power and technology dominance - with the true intention of curbing China's development, industry observers claim.  

The Biden administration is investigating Huawei over concerns that US cell towers fitted with its gear could capture sensitive information from military bases and missile silos that the company could then transmit to China, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

"Authorities are concerned that Huawei could obtain sensitive data on military drills and the readiness status of bases and personnel via the equipment, one of the people said, requesting anonymity because the investigation is confidential and involves national security," the report said.

Industry observers described the reported investigation as the beginning of another round of baseless crackdowns and smears targeting the Chinese tech giant, abusing the concept of national security and the use of state power. 

"The US has to provide evidence to prove its so-called 'national security' concerns, and how the data can be transferred to China," Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Friday.

Reuters said that it could not determine if Huawei's equipment is capable of collecting that sort of sensitive information and providing it to China.

"Moreover, the deployment of such equipment near a military place should have already gone through a very strict examination," an industry player who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Friday. 

"National security seems like an 'easy' excuse for the US to launch another round of investigations into the firm," the person said.

The US Commerce Department said that it could not "confirm or deny ongoing investigations," adding that "protecting US persons' safety and security against malign information collection is vital to protecting our economy and national security."

Huawei has long been accused by the US government of being able to spy on US customers, but authorities in Washington have failed to offer any solid evidence. Huawei has strongly denied the US government's allegations that it could spy on US customers and pose a national security threat.

Xiang cautioned that even if the investigation persisted, the impact on the company may be limited as Huawei has already had to deal with multiple rounds of sanctions. 

Insiders also told the Global Times that Huawei's operations in the US are "more than limited" due to previous crackdowns.

"Smearing Chinese firms, including Huawei, and creating barriers for their development, is the true intention behind the investigation, and it is set to backfire," Xiang said.

On July 15, the US telecoms regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), told Congress that the country still needs an extra $3 billion to effectively remove and replace equipment belonging to Huawei and ZTE from its networks, since an initial budget of $1.9 million is now deemed insufficient.

The FCC has said that it will freeze government funding for any organization that fails to comply with the removal order, according to a previous Reuters report.