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Former military officer lashes out at reports that his company's hardware could be used for spying

China's Huawei Technologies Comp. (SHE:002502performed well in 2012, posting major growth, particularly in the smartphone sector.  But the company suffered a major black mark during the year -- scrutiny by U.S. regulators over security concerns.  Huawei was accused of funneling telecommunications equipment illegally to Iran.  And while an investigation vindicated Huawei of spying accusations, it did suggest that the Chinese government could leverage its relationship with Huawei as a spying route in the future.

Now Huawei's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, 68, is speaking out angrily about the accusations, breaking the wall of silence that surrounded him since the allegations were made last year.  Mr. Ren, a former officer in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), has avoided media interviews for years.  Instead he would only communicate via posts to his company's website, only occasionally appearing publicly at economic forums and other non-company events.

But in his first major press appearance in Huawei history, he spoke with reporters this week in New Zealand.  On the prospect of a U.S. ban on Huawei smartphone and router sales, he comments, "Huawei has no connection to the cyber-security issues the U.S. has encountered in the past, current and future.  Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the U.S. We have never sold any key equipment to major U.S. carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any U.S. government agency."

Ren Zhengfei
Ren Zhengfei, former PLA officer and current Huawei CEO at a 2012 economics summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. [Image Source: Reuters]

He's right -- there is no Huawei equipment on U.S. government networks ... because it is banned.

The international community remains divided on the issue of Huawei and security, amid record levels of Chinese digital spying.  Canada and Australia joined the U.S. in banning Huawei's telecommunications equipment from government networks. 

However, Britain recently offered up a dissenting take when its government security experts declared Huawei fully vetted and capable of bidding on government contracts.  And Mr. Ren's comments came in New Zealand at a press event for its new 4G LTE and ultra-fast broadband networks contracts in the nation.

Huawei router
Huawei's routers are reportedly riddled with security holes -- some of which some analyst claim are deliberate back doors. [Image Source: The Hacker News]
 
Huawei is currently the world's second largest telecommunications equipment maker and fifth largest smartphone maker.  The 26-year old company is estimated to be worth $35B USD.

Source: AP on Yahoo! News





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