Did a world leader in telecommunications spy for the Chinese government? General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA), said the answer is yes, referring to China's Huawei Technologies.
Hayden said Huawei "shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with." He made his remarks in an interview with the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published Friday.
Hayden stated that this was the most in-depth, on-the-record media interview he has given since retiring as director of the CIA in 2009. He served as director of the NSA between 1999 and 2005, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton. Hayden is currently a director at Motorola Solutions, a solutions and service provider of communication gear for businesses and government.
Asked in the interview whether he had had any direct exposure to Huawei, he answered that two or three years ago when Huawei was trying to establish itself in the United States, the company attempted to get him -- as former NSA head and CIA chief -- to endorse its American presence, "to serve on their local board, or to have some other kind of commercial relationship with them."
He decided not to accept the offer. "God did not make enough briefing slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be okay," he said.
The "Yes" Bomb
When asked by AFR if Huawei represented an unambiguous national security threat to the U.S. and Australia, he replied, "Yes, I believe it does."
Huawei's response on Friday came fast and furious. Huawei's Global Cyber Security Officer, John Suffolk, described the comments made by Hayden as "tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks" and challenged him and other critics to present any evidence publicly.
"Huawei is a world-leading, proven and trusted ICT [information and communications technology] company," Suffolk said. "These tired, unsubstantiated defamatory remarks are sad distractions from real-world concerns related to espionage -- industrial and otherwise -- that demand serious discussion globally."
In an e-mailed response to Reuters on Friday, he said that Huawei meets the communication needs of more than a third of the planet and customers have the right to know what these unsubstantiated concerns are. "It's time to put up or shut up."
Under UK Review
Suffolk is obviously a busy man. The AFR story came a day after Britain announced it would review cybersecurity at a Huawei-run center to ensure that telecommunications security is not compromised. The outcome of the investigation will be reported to the prime minister.
Last month, Li Sanqi, chief technology officer of Huawei's carrier network business, told The Wall Street Journal that he did not see the likelihood of any changes in its relationship with the U.K., where Huawei has already established its business. Last year, Huawei Technologies announced plans to spend $2 billion expanding its operation in Britain.
Posted: 2013-07-19 @ 2:37pm PT
Whether Huawei spies for the Chinese government still remains to be proven. Other than groundless insinuations, there has been no hard evidence. On the other hand, it is clearly admitted that VERY FEW American tech companies DO NOT spy for and with the American spy agencies, and they freely benefit from the classified information garnered.
IF the standard pushed by Washington on Huawei is the correct one, expect to see American tech companies having a hard time surviving overseas.
America could certainly become autarkic.