Heads of US intelligence agencies have expressed their distrust of products from Huawei and ZTE. The chiefs of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and director of national intelligence said that they would not advise Americans to buy smartphones from Chinese based companies for reasons of national security and privacy.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray told the US Senate Intelligence Committee.
Chinese electronics companies current stand accused of sharing user data with the Chinese government. Leading to not only privacy concerns, but also the fear that foreign spies could be listening in to sensitive government communications.
Huawei, on its part, believes that this is part of a national move from the US government to prevent it from entering the US market. CEO Richard Yu went off script during the company’s CES presentation to rant against the protectionist measures taken by the American government. Especially after lawmakers pressured AT&T to pull out of a deal at the last minute.
A statement from Huawei said: “Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities.”
It’s unclear why the American government is concerned about companies like Huawei and ZTE, as none of the chiefs went on to explain the source of their comments. While it’s almost certain that there is some level of Chinese government intervention in this matter, there is not nearly enough evidence to go as far as calling it espionage.