The U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Intelligence just published a report that deemed two Chinese manufacturers of routers, switches, and telecoms equipment as a possible threat to national security, and it subsequently warned American companies to purchase their hardware elsewhere.
According to the committee’s press release:
The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R-MI) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), today released a report recommending to U.S. companies considering doing business with Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE to find another vendor. The report encourages U.S. companies to take into account the long-term security risks associated with either company providing equipment or services to our telecommunications infrastructure. Additionally, the report recommends that U.S. government systems, particularly sensitive systems, exclude Huawei or ZTE equipment or component parts.
Reuters reported that Huawei and ZTE are the world’s second- and fifth-largest manufacturers, respectively, of telecom equipment by revenue. ZTE ranks fourth in the global mobile smartphone sector, however, while Huawei sits in sixth. The majority of both companies’ U.S. sales come from devices sold through U.S. carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA.
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The committee’s report found the following grievances with Huawei and ZTE (PDF):
Neither company was willing to provide sufficient evidence to ameliorate the Committee’s concerns. Neither company was forthcoming with detailed information about its formal relationships or regulatory interaction with Chinese authorities. Neither company provided specific details about the precise role of each company’s Chinese Communist Party Committee. Furthermore, neither company provided detailed information about its operations in the United States. […] Most importantly, neither company provided sufficient internal documentation or other evidence to support the limited answers they did provide to Committee investigators.
Due to the above findings, the committee advised American businesses this morning to buy from other companies:
U.S. network providers and systems developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects. Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.
CNET asked Huawei’s Vice President for External Affairs if the committee’s report would affect the company’s business in the U.S., but he promptly dubbed the report a “political distraction.”
“Huawei is a world-trusted company with products globally proven to be secure,” said Plummer to CNET. “Those are the facts today and those will be the facts tomorrow.”