Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, denied that it poses a security threat after the former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency said it spies for China.
Huawei is a “proven and trusted” information and communications technology company, spokesman Scott Sykes said in an e-mailed statement today. The company was responding to remarks made by Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA, to the Australian Financial Review.
Legislative committees in the U.K. and U.S. have expressed concern with links between the closely held company and China, with Huawei locked out of government-backed projects in Australia and the U.S. Huawei is fighting concerns over cyber security after intelligence agencies and security companies traced web attacks to China.
“These tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks are sad distractions from real-world concerns related to espionage, industrial and otherwise,” Huawei’s Sykes said in today’s e-mail.
A U.S. congressional committee in October said Huawei and ZTE Corp., both based in Shenzhen, provide opportunities for Chinese intelligence services to tamper with telecommunications networks for spying.
Huawei was barred by the U.S. in 2011 from participating in building a nationwide emergency network and last year Australia banned the company from bidding for work on its national broadband fiber network citing “national interests.”
Hayden, now a director at Motorola Solutions Inc., told the Australian Financial Review it isn’t acceptable for Huawei to create the backbone of telecommunications networks and the risks are too great for governments.
“At a minimum, Huawei would have shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with,” Hayden told the Australian Financial Review, according to the transcript.
Hayden confirmed the accuracy of the transcript supplied on the newspaper’s website in an e-mail to Bloomberg News today. Hayden told the newspaper he couldn’t comment on specific instances of espionage or any operational matters.
The U.K. Cabinet Office yesterday announced the national security adviser will conduct a review of Huawei’s Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, known as the Banbury Cell. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee last month expressed concern over the lack of clarity on links between Huawei and the Chinese government.
“Huawei shares the same goal as the U.K. government,” Sykes said. “Huawei is open to new ideas and ways of working to improve cyber security.”
Huawei, the world’s second-largest maker of equipment for phone networks after Ericsson AB, was founded by Ren Zhengfei in 1987 after retiring from the Chinese military in 1983.
Ren reduced his role at the company since October 2011, when he split the role of chief executive officer with a panel of three executives who rotate at six-month intervals.
Huawei is employee-owned, with about 74,000 of its 155,000 workers holding shares, according to the company’s annual report released in April.