Europe, Japan echo U.S. concerns over Chinese telecom giant Huawei
Japan and the European Union said Friday they had their own security concerns about Huawei and other Chinese corporate giants, a day after it was revealed a top Huawei executive had been detained in Canada at the request of the Trump administration.
EU Digital Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip said the arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, reportedly on suspicion of involvement in trying to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, has raised red flags for the political bloc.
“The next question is, do we have to be worried about Huawei or other Chinese companies? Yes, I think we have to be worried,” Mr. Ansip said at a press briefing.
In Japan, press reports that the government might exclude Huawei and fellow Chinese high-tech giant ZTE Corp. from government purchases brought a sharp response from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, who noted that both firms had operated legally in Japan for a long time.
China hoped Japan “will provide a level playing field for Chinese companies and avoid doing anything that would undermine mutual trust and cooperation,” Mr. Geng said.
Ms. Meng, who happens to be the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested on Saturday in Vancouver by request of U.S. officials. Extradition hearings are planned as China’s Embassy in Canada strongly protested the detention.
The arrest shines a spotlight on concerns over Huawei’s market position as the world’s biggest supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, and that its dominance threatens national security across a host of countries. The firm has long been a source of worry for the U.S. and its allies, given its close ties to the Chinese government and China’s military leaders.
Ms. Meng’s arrest has also complicated a trade war “truce” just negotiated by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Mr. Ansip said the EU fears Beijing could require European tech firms to cooperate with its intelligence services or add technological “back doors” to their systems that could be exploited by Chinese officials and companies.
Separately on Friday, Huawei has reportedly promised to spend $2 billion as part of efforts to address security issues raised by the British government.
In July, Britain’s GCHQ spy agency released a report identifying technical and supply-chain issues within Huawei equipment which could expose Britain’s telecom networks to new security risks.
Reuters reported that a source claimed senior Huawei officials in China were working on plans to address those concerns, however. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China did get one sign of support in the Huawei standoff Friday when Russia’s top diplomat criticized Ms. Meng’s arrest as an example of heavy-handed U.S. policies.
Speaking during a meeting in Rome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Trump administration was operating from “a very arrogant position” and attempting to implement U.S. law beyond U.S. borders.