Lawmakers call Chinese telecom firm Huawei a national security threat

Top lawmakers are calling Chinese telecom firm Huawei a threat to national security and urging U.S. companies to avoid doing business with the manufacturer. 

The warning came Sunday on “60 Minutes” ahead of the release of a congressional investigation into Huawei. 

"If I were an American company today … and you are looking at Huawei, I would find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumers’ privacy, and you care about the national security of the United States of America," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told CBS. 


Huawei is the largest telecom manufacturer in the world and has close ties to the Chinese government. 

According to CBS, U.S. officials believe Huawei could "intercept high-level communications, gather intelligence, wage cyber war, and shut down or disrupt critical services" in the United States on China's behalf. 

While there is no "hard evidence" for these claims, according to CBS, the possibility has led the Obama administration to interfere with Huawei's efforts to expand in the United States. 

In one case, federal officials convinced Sprint not to sign a $5 billion contract with the company to build a 4G wireless network, CBS reported. 

Huawei already maintains a "handful" of networks in rural America, according to CBS, but is trying to gain a bigger foothold with an "army of lobbyists and public relations firms." 

Executives have denied the firm is up to "some sort of mischief." 

Huawei’s vice president for external affairs Bill Plummer told The Hill he would like to the committee’s report to judge the company by the same security standards other global telecom manufacturers face.

"We have some concern, however, that that won't be the case," Plummer said.

Plummer dismissed suggestions that the company would jeopardize lucrative international contracts to appease Chinese government officials. 

"The suggestion that there's a conspiracy for Huawei to infect its own equipment at the behest of a government — really? That would require hundreds, thousands of people within the company to be involved in the conspiracy," Plummer said.

In his interview with CBS, Plummer, though, acknowledged the firm has not communicated about itself effectively. 

"But over the last couple of years we've really stepped that up," Bill Plummer told CBS. "I mean, you want to know more about us? We're an open book." 

But Rogers said the company has "provided little actual evidence" to ease concerns on Capitol Hill. 

CBS reporter Steve Kroft also complained that Huawei was secretive during the network's visit to facilities in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. 

"The goal of the visit to Shenzhen was to give a really rich and visual impression of the company," Plummer said. 

Huawei "has experienced a history of not fully-balanced treatment by the media," Plummer said. "And that's created a sense of wariness." 

The House Intelligence Committee will release its findings on Huawei Monday.