A key US House of Representatives committee has confirmed that it has launched an official investigation into the national security threat posed by Chinese-owned telecoms equipment vendors operating in the US market, such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, and his opposite number, Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger, intend to explore the whether or not Beijing is able to use those assets for economic or military espionage purposes. Rogers declared: ‘The fact that our critical infrastructure could be used against us is of serious concern. Huawei happens to be the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but there are other companies that will be included’. Ruppersberger added: ‘We already know the Chinese are aggressively hacking into our nation’s networks, threatening our critical infrastructure and stealing secrets worth millions of dollars in intellectual property from American companies. The purpose of this investigation is to determine to what extent Chinese communications companies are exploiting the global supply chain and how we can mitigate this threat to our national and economic security’. Going forward, the committee has warned US companies against ‘engaging Huawei technology until we can fully determine their motives’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last month Chinese telecoms equipment vendor Huawei called on the US Department of Commerce to explain why the company has been excluded from participation in the construction of a national wireless network for emergency responders. The firm was reportedly barred due to ‘US government national security concerns’, and William Plummer, a Washington-based spokesman for Huawei, told Bloomberg: ‘Notwithstanding that it is an ill-founded, ungrounded determination, it could have a chilling effect on our greater US business activities and accountability needs to be defined appropriately. No one has ever factually demonstrated otherwise, and playing Huawei as a pawn in some geopolitical game of chess is doing nothing more than threatening US jobs, investment, competition and innovation’.