When it comes to cyber security, when in doubt blame the Chinese, but there is one telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Ltd. issuing a report that includes a pledge never to cooperate with spying in a fresh effort to allay concerns in the United States and elsewhere that threaten to hamper its expansion.
The report, written by a Huawei executive who is a former British official, calls for global efforts to create legal and technical security standards. It makes no recommendations for what standards to adopt but said current laws are inconsistent or fail to address important threats.
Huawei, founded by a former Chinese military engineer in 1987, has grown to become the world’s second-largest supplier of telecoms network gear after Sweden’s LM Ericsson. Fears Huawei might be under the control of China’s Communist Party or military have slowed its expansion in the United States and the company ended up barred from bidding on an Australian broadband project.
The company denies it is a security threat.
“We have never damaged any nation or had the intent to steal any national intelligence, enterprise secrets or breach personal privacy and we will never support or tolerate such activities, nor will we support any entity from any country who may wish us to undertake an activity that would be deemed illegal in any country,” the report said.
John Suffolk, a former British government chief information officer, who became Huawei’s global cyber security officer last year, wrote the 25-page report.
A Huawei spokesman said the report was not a direct response to security concerns about the company in the United States, Australia and elsewhere.
“You could say that the information in the paper could be helpful in those countries where we’ve had challenges,” said the spokesman, Scott Sykes. “It’s not a specific response to those situations, but does it apply to those? Yes.”
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei issued a similar appeal for security cooperation in June in a rare public appearance at a Russian business conference. Ren made no mention of suspicions about Huawei but called on the global industry to “join hands” and warned security threats would continue to grow.
Huawei, based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, said its equipment is in 45 of the world’s 50 biggest phone companies. It has more than 110,000 employees and reported profit of 11.6 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) last year on sales of 209.9 billion yuan ($32.4 billion).
The company has tried to reassure foreign officials with steps that include setting up a testing center in Britain where government technicians can examine its equipment. But it released few details about who controls Huawei, which has fueled suspicions abroad.