Huawei: Why the United States considers the Chinese technological giant as a threat to national security


The arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the founder of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and the company's chief financial officer, triggered a political storm between Washington and Beijing.

Although the charges against Wanzhou were not initially disclosed, it was learned that the arrest was made at the request of the United States, which considers that the company violated sanctions against Iran.

China demanded the immediate release of the executive and called detention "a violation of human rights."

Huawei, which accounts for 15 percent of the global market as the world's second-largest cellphone maker, has been banned in several Western countries for fear that Beijing will force the company to disclose industrial secrets and another confidential information which could put national security at risk.

Countries such as the United States, New Zealand and Australia have blocked the giant for security reasons. While others such as Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea, put the company under evaluation.

Huawei, for its part, defends its independence, denies the allegations and insists it is a private company.

Is Huawei a threat to national security?

The United States argues that Huawei poses a risk to national security.

And Washington explains that the links of its founder with the army (Ren Zhengfei is a former officer of the People's Liberation Army of China) and because of the growing importance it has acquired globally.

Huawei has grown rapidly in the market for equipment that makes cellular networks work. Currently it is the largest provider of telecommunications equipment in the world.

Just as China occupies an increasingly important place on the world stage, so does the technological giant.

Theoretically, having control of the technology that is at the center of the most important communication networks gives the company the ability to spy or interfere any conflict, especially in a context where more and more products work through the Internet.

The United States is particularly concerned about a rule approved in 2017 by China's National Intelligence Agency, which states that companies should "support, cooperate and collaborate with national intelligence work."

Following the adoption of that Regulation, USA, Australia and New Zealand banned its local businesses from using Huawei to provide technology that allows the use of Network 5G.

There are three members of the group who share intelligence "The 5 Eyes". The fourth country in the group is Canada, which is currently reviewing its relationship with the company.

And the UK has so far made no determination against the company, although it has asked to correct problems posing "new risks" to the network.

What does Huawei say?

The company is presented as a private company whose owners are its employees and who has no ties to the Chinese government in addition to their tax obligations.

Huawei says one of its priorities is the safety of its products and that part of the hostility it suffered is due to the fact that the company is seen as threat from a commercial point of view.

In the past, the Chinese government itself has stated that the blockade of Huawei's products is due to "protectionist and discriminatory practices".

The new episode of hostility against the company comes amid the trade war between Washington and Beijing, with President Donald Trump accusing China of unfair trade practices and facilitating theft of intellectual property for American companies.

On the other hand, as several countries plan to introduce 5G communication networks simultaneously, the scenario has become more competitive for companies seeking contracts.

"There is a war of norms" behind the scenes, says Emily Taylor of the British study center Chatham House.

"I believe the business advantage of setting standards that favor their local technology providers is also at stake."

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