The European Union should be “worried” about Huawei and other Chinese tech companies because of the dangers they pose to its industry and security, says European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip.
“Do we have to be worried about Huawei or other Chinese companies? Yes, I think we have to be worried about those companies,” Ansip told journalists on Friday, during a news conference on the Commission’s Artificial Intelligence plan in Brussels.
“I think we have to be worried about those companies because they set new rules according with their IT companies, their producers,” added Ansip. “They have to cooperate with their intelligence services. And this is about mandatory backdoors, I was always against those backdoors”.
“It’s not a good sign when companies have to open their systems for some kind of secret services,” added the Vice-president. “As normal ordinary people of course we have to be afraid.”
“We have rules-based society in the EU and if some countries, businesses and scientists want to take part, then we have rules,” he said, answering to the EU’s intention to cooperate with Chinese companies on the AI field. “Of course, first we are looking at our own companies, not at companies coming form this countries”.
The comments came just a few days after a top executive at Huawei was arrested in Canada as part of an investigation into alleged bank fraud, having Chief Financial Officer Wanzhou Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei being arrested in Canada on 1 December, following allegations it had violated sanctions against Iran.
The Vice-president of the Commission was cautious on this point, reiterating that he is not aware of the reason that this arrest took place in Canada.
It is not just Ansip, but many western governments that are growing increasingly concerned that Huawei’s systems could be used by Chinese intelligence to enter the European systems. At the same time, the company’s decade-long ambition to reign over the 5G wireless network systems, is raising the alarm for those negatively predisposed.
The company’s reaction to Ansip’s comments was sharp, appearing |surprised and disappointed” by the comments made, questioning the issue of trust, Huawei’s role in some European driverless cars and 5G projects in the context of security allegations.
“We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat,” the company says, remaining “open to a dialogue with Ansip “to address these misunderstandings,” highlighting the intention “to continue our longstanding cooperation with the European Commission as a private, employee owned company”.
“We are part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Huawei suggests, further adding that the company has never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks, deeming such behaviour by any parts of its staff as ‘non-tolerable’.”
“Cyber security has always been our top priority and we have a proven track record of providing secure products and solutions for our customers in Europe and around the world,” adds the company, standing “ready to provide any information and are committed to maintaining an open dialogue with our European partners on security-related issues”.