Huawei's CEO Denies Back Door Theory – Reports

Phil Harvey
1/15/2019

Huawei's founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei told reporters today that Huawei is still employee-owned and would resist requests by the Chinese government to spy on its customers, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Speaking at the company's campus in Shenzen, Zhengfei said that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd wasn't required to "install mandatory back doors" on its gear -- a charge often leveled at the vendor by competitors and Western politicians worried about the level of control that the Chinese government has on Huawei -- and the company's potential for using its gear to spy on telecom service providers and their customers.

"I personally would never harm the interest of my customers and me and my company would not answer to such requests," Zhengfei is quoted as saying, according to The Journal's report.

The Journal also noted that Zhengfei, speaking through an interpreter, said he missed his daughter -- Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou -- and was confident that justice would prevail. It marked the first time the company's founder has spoken publicly about Meng's arrest in Canada, where she spent nearly two weeks in jail before posting bail. She faces charges related to an alleged US sanctions breech when Huawei sold telecom equipment to Iran. (See Huawei CFO Posts Bail in Canada.)

Meanwhile, the US government continues its needling of Huawei, doing all it can to slow the telecom equipment company's worldwide dominance.

The US Commerce Department has opted not to renew export licenses for Futurewei Technologies, Huawei's R&D facility in Silicon Valley, according to a January 10 report in The Wall Street Journal.

Most of what Futurewei exports to Huawei doesn't require an export license. But in this case, the license covers "the export of telecommunications technology and software, including high-speed data transfer technology," The Journal reported, citing government documents. "The technology had an operating budget of more than $16 million and involved more than 40 full-time-equivalent personnel," The Journal reported.

The latest revelation isn't a business killer for Huawei by any means, but a reminder that the US government is taking every available opportunity to stall the company's reach and influence in US.

Light Reading was unable to get Huawei or its Futurewei subsidiary to return phone calls or emails regarding The Journal's story.

More on Huawei's recent troubles:

— Phil Harvey, US News Editor, Light Reading

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TechMech
TechMech
1/16/2019 | 3:20:45 PM
Re: Can he also guarantee?
Admitted your all absolutely right. 
The question is fundamentally one of trust & track record.
Can we trust the governments to act in our best interests?
Probably not. 
IF upon acting nefariously, they are discovered are there real consequences?
Well, for the US. Yes. They suffer significant embarrassment & international condemnation. 
Edward Snowden & Bradley Manning been 2 examples. 
The Chinese, do not seem to care if they are caught. They just shrug & trot out some "nothing to with us" tripe. 

Second, what is the track record? Well.... it's an interesting 1. 
Both the US & China have history around cyber espionage. So then it becomes who is deemed the bigger threat & more dangerous/rogue player. 

I think the accolade goes to China, BUT its a question of semantics & optics. It's also likely a subjective conclusion based on western media exposure & narratives. 

 
brooks7
brooks7
1/16/2019 | 2:16:15 PM
Re: Can he also guarantee?
@Phil

No, and I hope that the CIA and NSA have backdoors in all the routers that those companies have produced.  If not what the heck am I paying them for?  Take a $1B and bribe some software people.

And that is my point.  Telecom Equipment is a critical security component.  I would not outsource F-22 jets or Abrams tanks either.

seven

 
Phil Harvey
Phil Harvey
1/16/2019 | 1:47:50 PM
Re: Can he also guarantee?
... and can any vendor guarantee that their home government will leave their gear alone? Seems unlikely but I'd be open to hearing from a vendor about why that can't happen on their watch.
iainmorris
iainmorris
1/16/2019 | 6:34:50 AM
Re: Can he also guarantee?
This remark seems spot on, to me. Huawei thinks it can placate opponents by running around and insisting that it does not install spyware in its networks. The real question is whether it can guarantee that Chinese government agencies are not installing spyware in its networks.
brooks7
brooks7
1/15/2019 | 3:03:25 PM
Can he also guarantee?
That the PLA and other elements of the Chinese governments have not added backdoors without his knowledge.  Look I expect that Juniper and Cisco equipment have NSA or CIA (or other) spy elements.  I expect the same for Huawei given their government connections.  Spies spy...thats what they do.

seven

 
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