Huawei calls espionage claims 'ludicrous'

Networking vendor denies that it has links to the China's government that could cause security problems for Australia's future National Broadband Network.

Renai LeMay Special to CNET News
2 min read

Chinese networking vendor Huawei Technologies has slammed as "ludicrous and inaccurate" claims that it had links to the Chinese military and government that could cause security problems for the National Broadband Network.

The Australian newspaper reported on Thursday that security agencies would "closely examine" any Huawei involvement in Optus' bid to build the National Broadband Network due to international concerns about the company's links with Chinese authorities.

But in a statement released Thursday afternoon under the name of its vice director of public relations for the Asia-Pacific region, Thong Poh Wah, Huawei denied the claims. The company, which supplies equipment to a number of Australian telecommunications specialists and other companies, employs 230 staffers in Australia.

"Huawei is privately held and 100 percent owned by its employees, administered through an employee share ownership plan," the company said. "No other organizations, including the government, army, or business hold stakes in Huawei."

Referring to The Australian's report that Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei had a military background, Huawei pointed out that prior military service was common among many North American and European business leaders.

"Huawei only manufactures telecom equipment for commercial public use, and its main customers include 35 of the world's top 50 telecom operators," the company said, noting that sales related to the Chinese government accounted for only 0.5 percent of its income in 2007.

"Before Huawei can work with those companies, it must meet a strict auditing process that reviews the company's strategic planning, process, management system, quality control, and human resources," the statement said.

Earlier this year, security concerns raised by the U.S. government helped put an end to Huawei's bid to take a stake in 3Com, which makes network security equipment that is sold to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin on Thursday claimed that The Australian's report contained "potentially very concerning revelations." Australians needed to be assured the NBN was free of any potential for cyberespionage, he said.

Renai LeMay of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney. CNET News' Jon Skillings contributed to this report.