Huawei officials say they would 'welcome' US ban on tech posing national security risk

Huawei officials say they would 'welcome' US ban on tech posing national security risk
© Getty

Senior executives for Chinese telecommunications group Huawei said Wednesday they would “welcome” the U.S. banning use of technology deemed a national security risk, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE considers signing an executive order on the matter.

“Making America safer from a national security perspective, we welcome it,” Andy Purdy, the chief technology officer for Huawei Technologies USA, told The Hill in an interview.


Purdy’s comments came in response to a report from Reuters on Tuesday that Trump was considering signing an executive order this week to ban U.S. companies from using technology from manufacturers viewed as a national security risk.

The president signed the executive order on Wednesday afternoon.

Don Morrissey, the head of congressional, state and local governmental affairs for Huawei, told The Hill that it’s Huawei’s “firm desire to be able to talk to the government and look at solutions on cybersecurity that cover all vendors, that look at risk mitigation.”

Huawei’s potential impact on the rollout of fifth generation wireless technology, or 5G, was a focus of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on national security threats stemming from 5G. Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE (R-S.C.) suggested that the U.S. should consider severing business ties with other countries that use Chinese technology, telling reporters that “until China stops being a communist dictatorship, we are not going to support working with a country that uses their technology.”

Huawei executives pushed back on those comments, with Purdy saying the Senate hearing “really manifested a misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the role of equipment vendors and the role of the network operators and how those relationships are managed, how risk is managed, they misunderstand the relationship of the equipment vendor like Huawei with customer data.”

He added that committee members “ignore the fact that as we move into 5G, new standards have been developed, new mechanisms…that will allow 5G to be more secure than 4G, and we believe that there are effective risk mitigation mechanisms that are possible and necessary relative to all vendors.”

Purdy pointed to telecom firms Nokia and Ericsson’s “deep ties to China,” and said those companies are allowed do business in the U.S. because they “operate under a government risk mitigation mechanism.”

“We would like to have the possibility of talking with the government to have this too…so American consumers and organizations can get the benefits of Huawei,” Purdy said.

Morrissey argued that discussion of Huawei’s efforts around securing its systems against cyber threats was missing from the Senate hearing.

“Certain members of the government are looking at these issues and say, 'We have to look at a no-trust system.' And that is something Huawei agrees with, trust nothing and verify everything when it comes to cybersecurity,” Morrissey said. “Some of those efforts assessing cybersecurity were missing from the hearing.”

Huawei Chairman Liang Hua said at an event in London on Tuesday that the company would be willing to sign “no-spy agreements with governments,” particularly in the wake of reports that the U.K. may be willing to allow Huawei to only provide “non-core” 5G technology to the country.

Purdy said those potential agreements would be “supportive of the idea that we can demonstrate that we aren’t subject to the undo influence of the Chinese government.”

But several lawmakers are concerned about Huawei being involved in U.S. telecom networks.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Homeland Security chairman calls on new Trump aide to reestablish cyber coordinator House Democrat urges Trump to address online extremism at UN MORE (D-Miss.) told The Hill on Wednesday that he in terms of threats to the U.S. from Chinese tech companies, he is “concerned about it, the briefings have said it’s a problem, and for the most part the administration has been supportive of many of these companies continuing to do business.”

During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, there appeared to be bipartisan support and an understanding of the dangers posed by allowing Chinese companies access to 5G networks in the U.S., or to those of the American allies.

“If our allies decide to trust Huawei, they are deciding to trust the Chinese government with their big data,” Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Trump endorses Sasse in 2020 race MORE (R-Neb.) said.

Updated at 4:44 p.m.