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Huawei spies for China, says ex-CIA head

Christopher Joye (via AFR) | July 19, 2013
Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei Technologies is a significant security threat to Australia and the US, has spied for the Chinese government, says ex-CIA head.

"While you hear rumours of the evidence, it has never come out in public before."

General Hayden said that given the "over-arching national security risks a foreign company building your national telecoms networks creates, the burden of proof is on Huawei."

Huawei has fallen "well short" of meeting the test, he said.

"These guys are not even transparent to themselves," he said. "There's no transparency around who appoints the board or who controls the ownership of the business.

"And there's no independent ­Chinese ­government oversight committee that could give us confidence that Huawei would not do what they promised not to do."

The CIA says that Huawei's chairman, Sun Yafang, previously worked for the Ministry of State Security, China's foreign intelligence service.

The company's founder, Ren Zhengfei, was a deputy director in the People's Liberation Army's Information Engineering Academy, which is responsible for telecommunications research. He was elected to the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1982.

General Hayden said he was approached to join Huawei's American board. "Two or three years ago Huawei was trying to establish a pretty significant footprint here," he said. "And they were trying to get people like me to endorse their presence in the US.

"I reviewed Huawei's briefing paper. But God did not make enough slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be OK. This was my considered view, based on a four-decade career as an intelligence officer."

Former Coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer, a member of Huawei Australia's board, wrote last year that "Huawei is a tribute to capitalism's creativity".

America's Congressional Intelligence Committee and Britain's ­Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee recently published reports concluding Huawei is a security risk to domestic phone networks, although they say it spied for China.

"I understand that this can be tough on business in Australia and the US because we're taking the lowest bidder out of the competition," General Hayden said. "But this isn't very hard for us to do in the security domain: it's almost reflexive, given what we believe."

In a public hearing of the Australian Parliament's intelligence committee last September, Mr Lord, ­Huawei Australia's chairman, confirmed the company had been designated a "national champion" of strategic significance by the Chinese state.

Under aggressive questioning, Mr Lord also confirmed Huawei was a network provider to Iran, and con­tinues to provide it with tele­communications services.

In 2001 a Huawei representative revealed the company supplied equipment for the PLA's first national telecoms network, which it reportedly maintained and upgraded.


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