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Huawei Chairman Has a Message for Trump: There Are No Back Doors

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Huawei has launched a staunch—and cheeky—defence of the embattled Chinese telco equipment maker’s alleged espionage agenda.

In a message targeted at the White House, given at MWC 2019, Huawei deputy chairman Guo Ping said, “I understand Trump when he said that the U.S. needs powerful, faster, and smarter 5G. Huawei is far head of the game when it comes to 5G. For the best technology and greater security—choose Huawei.”

Guo explicitly addressed claims that his company's infrastructure comes with a path back to Beijing.

“Huawei has not and will never plant back doors,” he stated. “Huawei has a strong track record in security for three decades. The U.S. security accusation [about] our 5G has no evidence. Nothing."

He added, “The irony is that the U.S. Cloud Act allows their entities to access data cross borders.”

The act compels U.S.-based technology companies via warrant or subpoena to provide requested data stored on servers regardless of whether the data are stored in the U.S. or on foreign soil.

It’s the same charge levelled at the Chinese firm.

Guo claimed that Huawei is leading the rollout of 5G globally and backed up his argument with a number of statistics.

Last year, Huawei invested more than $15 billion in technology. It claimed to be the first company able to deploy 5G networks at scale, to deliver 14Gbps per 5G sector and boost 5G speeds using fibre up to 200Gbps, four times greater than any competitor.

“We are leading in 5G but we understand innovation is nothing without security,” he said. “Who is the most trustworthy of them all? It’s a very important question and if you don’t understand that [then] you can go ask Edward Snowden.”

Putting the ball back into the court of network carriers rather than tech vendors he said trust would come only through unified standards and clear regulations.

He continued: “We cannot use prisms, crystal balls, or politics to manage cyber security. It’s a challenge we all share.”

The industry standards body 3GPP was created with the support of many government security agencies.

“Government and mobile operators should work together to agree how this assurance testing and certification regime will be,” he said.

Huawei has received wider industry backing. In Barcelona, Vodafone CEO Nick Read said that cutting the number of major network suppliers to two from three would damage the industry.

“[It would lead] to a massive swap of equipment, be hugely disruptive to national infrastructure consumers and very, very expensive,” he said. “It will delay 5G in Europe for probably two years. It structurally disadvantages Europe.”

Turkish mobile operator Turkcell has also come out in support, saying Huawei is "a reliable business partner and the partnership is set to continue." Turkcell added that the "problem is not just about personal data privacy, it's also about just 'a couple of global companies' desire to stay in power”.

Ciaran Martin, CEO of the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre also recently clarified its position saying the issues with Huawei are not the firm’s links to China but wider issues of telco security.

“These problems are about the standard of cyber security; they are not indicators of hostile activity by China," Martin said.

Guo also said that Huawei is investing to make 5G simpler to install and more efficient to run.

“While the industry’s networks are 21st century, the network operation and maintenance is still in the 18th century,” he said. “Globally, 70% of network faults are from human limitations.”

Huawei is using AI embedded in its chips to build intelligent networks that would, among other things, reduce network issues and reduce power costs for carriers, he added.

Photo: Guo Ping at MWC 2019

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