Updates with Huawei reaction
Europe should be “worried” about Huawei and other Chinese companies, given the mandatory cooperation they have to maintain with Chinese intelligence services, European Commission Vice-President for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said on Friday (7 December).
“Do we have to be worried about Huawei and other Chinese companies? Yes, I think we have to be worried about those companies,” Ansip said in reply to EURACTIV.com’s question.
“Ordinary people, of course, we have to be afraid”, he said.
Huawei reacted by saying it was “surprised and disappointed” by Ansip’s comments.
“We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat. We are open to a dialogue with Vice President Andrus Ansip to address these misunderstandings and intend to continue our longstanding cooperation with the European Commission as a private, employee-owned company,” Huawei said in a statement.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ansip recalled that the Chinese government introduced new rules forcing IT companies and producers to cooperate with intelligence services.
“This is about mandatory backdoors. I was always against mandatory backdoors,” he said as he expressed his concern about having chips implanted in devices to steal “secrets”.
“It is not a good sign when companies have to open their systems to kind of secret services”.
Huawei replied that it has “never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks, and we would never tolerate such behaviour by any of our staff.”
“We are part of the solution, not the problem,” the Chinese company said, adding it had “a proven track record of providing secure products and solutions for our customers in Europe and around the world”.
Ansip’s comments came a day after it was revealed that Canada had arrested the vice-president of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of the company’s founder.
US authorities requested the arrest arguing that the company may have violated the US sanctions imposed against Iran.
Ansip said that he didn’t know about the details of the arrest.
Her detention put at stake the fragile truce recently agreed between US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Huawei is one of the ‘tech’ champions in China, and one of the more popular Chinese companies abroad.
It is the leading mobile infrastructure company in the world and its smartphones are second only to Samsung in terms of global sales.
However, Australia, New Zealand and the US have decided to ban Huawei as the provider for the 5G network. British Telecom has also decided not to include the Chinese company in its selection to set up the 5G network.
In 2012, a US Congress’s report warned that the company represented a security risk and warned phone companies not to buy its equipment.