Earlier this year, the Central Intelligence Agency informed its counterparts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK that Chinese technology company Huawei has received funding from the Central National Security Commission of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Liberation Army, and a “third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network,” according to The Times.
The paper cites an anonymous source in the UK that says that details were shared with “only the most senior UK officials,” which that the CIA “awarded a strong but not cast-iron classification of certainty. Huawei has consistently denied claims that it has ties to the country’s government, has said that it would “categorically refuse” any requests for data from the government, and “declined to comment on what it called unsubstantiated allegations.”
The US intelligence community has been wary of Huawei, and other Chinese-based companies like ZTE, over concerns that the Chinese government has too much influence over them (Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei was a former member of the People’s Liberation Army), and that it could use their infrastructure for intelligence gathering purposes. Those concerns have grown as global telecommunications networks begin to transition to 5G networks — a transition that Huawei is hoping to play a big role in, especially in Europe.
In recent years, US experts have raised concerns about the company’s products, while the Department of Defense has banned sales of both company’s products on military bases, and the FCC has proposed rules that would ban US telecommunications companies from using Huawei equipment. In recent months, the US has been working to dissuade its European allies from using Huawei gear as they upgrade their respective networks.
But the US government’s reasoning has always been fairly vague — which Huawei and other companies have pointed out on numerous occasions and claimed is motivated by politics. This latest report provides a bit of a glimpse into concerns that the US has with the company; potentially specific links to the Chinese government that it was confident enough to share with its allies.