Huawei willing to sign ‘no-spy’ agreements, Trump preps ban of foreign telecoms firms

Huawei says it's willing to sign ‘no-spy’ agreements with governments while Trump prepares an order to ban foreign telecoms firms over security concerns.

During a business conference in London, Huawei chairman Liang Hua said:

"We are willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments, including the UK government, to commit ourselves to making our equipment meet the no-spy, no-backdoors standard.”

The suggestion comes amid growing concern from Huawei that it may be banned from 5G networks, especially the UK which is under growing pressure from the US.

Huawei is not technically banned in the US, but few operators use equipment from the vendor as it makes them ineligible for government contracts.

The US claims that Chinese companies like Huawei are controlled by Beijing and would be forced to conduct espionage upon request.

Huawei has a Communist Party board at the company but argues that it's a requirement for all firms operating in China. The firm disputes any Chinese law forces it to comply with Beijing.

Trump is said to be preparing an order which is set to put greater restrictions on foreign telecoms companies. The US Commerce Department is expected to take as long as six months to decide its approach to the order which gives Huawei time to continue its campaign to prove it does not pose a threat.

So far, the US has been unable to persuade many of its allies to ban Huawei from national 5G networks. Many have cited a lack of evidence to warrant such a ban.

As one of the US’ key allies and a ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partner, many have looked at how the UK would respond. Leaks from a meeting of the National Security Council suggested the UK was minded to allow the use of Huawei 5G equipment in ‘non-core’ parts of networks.

During a brief visit to the UK, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said:

“In China, we face a new kind of challenge; an authoritarian regime that’s integrated economically into the West in ways that the Soviet Union never was.

Ask yourself: would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption or coercion? Would she allow China to control the internet of the future?”

US officials have threatened to reduce security cooperation with the UK if it allows the use of Huawei equipment.

“Insufficient security will impede the United States’ ability to share certain information within trusted networks,” Pompeo added. “This is just what China wants – to divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs.”

UK culture secretary Jeremy Wright responded to Pompeo’s comments that no decision has yet been made. If deemed necessary, Wright does not rule out a delay to 5G’s rollout to protect national security even if it requires using more expensive gear.

Last month, Beijing’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, called on the government to make its own determination on the issue rather than follow allies like the US and Australia.

16/05 Update

A Huawei spokesperson commented: "Restricting Huawei from doing business in the US will not make the US more secure or stronger; instead, this will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers."

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