Huawei, the Chinese technology giant, poses a conundrum for governments. It produces some of the most advanced fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications equipment and sells it at bargain prices. But there are fears that those products are or could be compromised, providing the Chinese government access to the data that they transmit or crippling the networks they empower. Huawei denies that is possible but those assurances ring hollow. Governments should take nothing on faith — neither the worries or the promises. A rigorous and applied skepticism is the correct policy.
The United States insists that Huawei poses a security threat to countries that put its equipment at the core of their telecommunications networks. First, it warned of back doors that give the company access to data that pass through its networks. When pressed, however, the U.S. could provide no proof that such vulnerabilities exist. Then, Washington warned that close ties between the company and the Chinese government could compromise security. This complaint is based on the special relationship shared by the government in Beijing and all large enterprises in China that afford the state influence in all corporate decision-making. Even without a special relationship, U.S. officials note that Chinese law requires Huawei — like any other Chinese company — to turn over to the government information that it requests.
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