GUESTESSAY: Why it’s worrying that China has integrated Huawei switches into telecommunications around the world


In the previous discussion, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan was summed up to capture relevant aspects of dual circulation, the Digital Silk Road (DSR) and the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) that aim to advance China as an economic, technological and foreign company and political powerhouse . Both initiatives are well funded, thoughtful, and strategic in their attempts to spread influence and a widespread reliance on Chinese products.

Related: China’s digital 5-year plans

The first blog concluded with a strong message of encouragement for the US to develop its own creative cybersecurity strategy that leverages strategic goals with business and politics to create a sustainable, secure cybersystem that complies with Western ethical standards, our free market philosophy and our democratic traditions.

The FCC’s rip-and-replace model was introduced by title only to give a glimpse of how the US should take and begin action to counter intrusive Chinese technology in our critical infrastructure. However, in order to understand our options in this struggle, we must first understand who we are doing it against.

Huawei Technologies, or Huawei for short, is a Chinese telecommunications company that has been fed by the Chinese government with a multi-billion dollar subsidy scale that dwarfs the monetary revenues of its closest competitors. To fuel its rise to the forefront of the global telecommunications landscape, Huawei had access to up to $ 75 billion in government support as it grew from a little-known telephone switch provider to the world’s largest telecommunications supplier (Wall Street Journal).

Subsidies aside, Huawei has received an estimated $ 16 billion in loans, export credits, and other forms of funding from Chinese banks since 1998 for the company’s operations and customers.

As mentioned in the previous blog, Brazil was initially firmly against adding Huawei technology to its infrastructure until the country was desperate amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Huawei executives ensured that millions of vaccine doses were sent from China to Brazil, and in order to repay China for their aid, Brazil eased its initial reservations about its safety and instead allowed Huawei to participate in its 5G bidding process, of which it was victorious was.

Many African countries that rely heavily on Huawei and ZTE devices seem to be similarly relaxed about security concerns. In 2018, Western media reported that the African Union (AU) servers for which Huawei had supplied telecommunications equipment had been compromised, causing information to leak back to China for five years. Nevertheless, the AU president together with Huawei rejected the espionage allegations and signed a new agreement with Huawei in 2018 (The Eurasia Group, 2020).

Unfortunately, Brazil, several African nations and numerous US allies are just a few of the many examples that show Huawei’s overwhelming power and aggressive ability to influence countries that initially defy their tactics but eventually fall prey to their immeasurable wallets or power. to provide urgently needed help goods.

A July 2020 report by Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said: “The United States is now on the verge of losing the future of the cyber domain to China. If China continues to perfect the instruments of digital authoritarianism and can effectively implement them at home and abroad, then the USA and its allies will not shape the digital environment. “

Huawei’s global influence and breathtaking integration make it a top US target for immediate action.

Huawei technology in our allies’ infrastructure is troubling, but understanding that Huawei is here in the US is far more worrying. The bargain deals Huawei has made with rural telecommunications companies have increased their influence and integration into our critical infrastructure, making their presence a direct and significant threat to national security.

If the US started damage control on behalf of our internal national security flaws and failures, Huawei would certainly be a logical place to start.

In May 2020, the US government finally pulled the plug on Huawei activities in the US and put the company on the “Entity List” of the Department of Commerce, which imposes restrictions on US business activities. Commerce added Huawei to this list after the U.S. Department of Justice charged it with trade secret theft, attempted trade secret theft, conspiracy, wire transfer fraud and obstruction of justice, and bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Conspiracy to commit money laundering and violations of the International Emergency Powers Act in illegally assisting Iran in evading sanctions.

About a year later, on July 13, 2021, CNBC reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had unanimously approved the completion of a $ 1.9 billion program to “rip and replace” devices from Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunications company operating under the brand name has been voted as a national security risk by the US government (Feiner & Macias, 2021). The program will subsidize the transition for rural US telecommunications companies from using Chinese products to secure US networks (Feiner & Marcias, 2021).

The United States can support the FCC’s rip-and-replace program because of its infrastructure framework and economy. Our 5G technology is not built directly on our 3G and 4G technology, so adapting our infrastructure is costly, but structurally not impossible. Additionally, the number of vendors using Huawei and ZTE technology is estimated in the millions, which is a manageable amount to focus on economically.

However, our allies have a much more complicated relationship with their Chinese suppliers.

The UK is arguably America’s most trusted ally. Based in the UK, Vodafone is the second largest telecommunications system in the world (after China Telecom) and has been using Huawei products for years.


In an April 2020 essay on Lawfare, Joachim Reiter of Vodafone stated: “European operators and governments are working hard to align market conditions and the EU’s ambitions to implement 5G with Washington’s perspective of supply chain security. The decision to continue using Huawei was made for practical reasons, given the previous use of Huawei in Europe and the lack of options among providers and the prevailing market environment … In contrast to the US, European network operators installed Huawei products in 3G a long time ago – and 4G networks … removing you from 5G means removing it from 4G etc … ”(Lawfare Blog, 2020).

In July 2020, at least one European nation, Great Britain – no longer a member of the European Union – agreed on a compromise position in which it was agreed to stop purchasing Huawei devices by the end of the year and withdraw Huawei devices from its network in seven years remove (traditionally the typical length of time telephone companies exchange their technologies).


However, while other large European countries may have some succession planning in place, they have not followed the UK lead at this point and this can be extremely difficult in the post-pandemic environment.

While “rip and replace” may be a short-term solution to a limited number of China’s digital threats, it can hardly be considered a cost-effective solution. In addition, while recognition of the potentially significant impact of Chinese control of Western telecommunications in the digital age is welcome, the US response has been limited, gradual, reactive and largely unsuccessful.

We need a digital strategy that is as thoughtful, strategic and targeted as the Chinese digital strategy, which is considered a major threat to national security.

About the essayist: Sarina Krantzler is a research fellow at the Internet Security Alliance, a trading group whose members include Chief Information Security Officers from Fortune 100 companies. This article was originally published on the ISA’s Daily Cybersecurity Blog.

*** This is a syndicated blog from The Last Watchdog’s Security Bloggers Network, written by bacohido. Read the original article at:


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