Don’t politicise cyber security, Huawei chairman urges

GCC countries on the forefront of 5G evolution and adoption, Eric Xu observes

Cyber security should remain a technical issue, not a political one, Xu said.
Cyber security should remain a technical issue, not a political one, Xu said.

Huawei rotating Chairman Eric Xu has sought to put to rest cyber security concerns surrounding the company’s equipment, particularly in the US. 

Addressing media at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen China, Xu said cyber security should remain a technical issue, not a political one. “The most effective way to address cyber security issues is to establish cyber security standards that are transparent, clear and fair to all participating companies," he said.

Xu’s press conference follows Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s media appearance last month where he refuted claims that the company he founded 32 years ago is under the sway of the Chinese Government.

On US allegations that its equipment pose cyber security risks to the US, Xu observed that virtually no US carrier is running Huawei equipment. “The US is essentially not using Huawei's equipment, so what kind of a security threat can we possibly pose to the US? Since Huawei's equipment is not used in the US networks, is the US having the most secure networks in the world? I don't think so.

“Based on what we see right now, cyber security is no longer a technical issue, because technical issues can always be resolved through the right solutions. Therefore, we think cyber security is a political issue. And maybe an ideological issue,” Xu said.

Further, the US government seems keen to internationalise its dispute with Huawei. “I don't believe that if Huawei shuts itself down, selling nothing to the world, then all the networks in the world would be secure. If someone can prove that if Huawei does not exist then people would not have to worry about cybersecurity and networks in the world would be secure, then probably shutting down Huawei would be a good option,” he added.

Xu admitted communication channels with the US have all but died down. “We tried in the past. But now we do not have access of communication. And currently we do not have a willingness to further communicate with the US government. Rather, we prefer to focus our time and effort to engage and communicate with governments and customers that are willing to engage with Huawei.”

Regarding alleged links with the Chinese government, Eric Xu said, “As a private Chinese company, Huawei falls under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government, so there must be some kind of link. But any suspicion, any guess, would at its very best, remain a suspicion and a guess. (Founder) Ren also mentioned that as a privately-owned enterprise in China, if we want to pursue commercial success, we must follow our own business ethics. We will never harm the interests of any customer or nation.”

“China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already clarified that no law in China requires companies to install mandatory backdoors in their equipment. Up until now, Huawei has never received any such requests,” he added.

Xu reiterated Huawei's position that the company wants to remain shielded from the ongoing trade negotiations between China and the US, “because Huawei is too small compared with China and the United States. As Ren put it, we're just like a sesame. Definitely the national interests of two big powers cannot be affected because of one single company.

“We look forward to positive outcomes from the trade negotiations between China and the United States. Because after such a long period of time, I believe both countries have seen the level of interdependence between the two sides. No party can live without the other.”

Xu said Huawei’s business operations continue as normal. The company’s revenue in 2018 reached US$108.5 billion, a 20% increase compared to the previous year. The company expects business to expand at a rate of over 10% in 2019 to reach US$125 billion in annual revenue.

GCC countries on Huawei’s ‘first type’ of 5G markets globally, the chairman said. Together with China, Japan, South Korea, data traffic consumption is growing very fast with a real need for 5G. “In those markets, I believe 5G will grow faster and the user demand for 5G will be greater than in other markets,” Xu said.

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