US Politicians Seek to Block Huawei Selling Kit to Sprint Nextel
Published on: 1st Jan 1970: 1:33am
A group of US Senators have written to the Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, the Director of National Intelligence, and others in the federal government warning that Sprint Nextel should not proceed with a rumoured deal with China's Huawei.
Huawei has been reported to be making a determined push to enter the US
wireless infrastructure market, with a bid to supply kit to Sprint Nextel, although nothing has been signed yet.
Huawei has been attempting to tap into the lucrative US market for some years, but has been held back by - often denied - claims of close links to the Chinese military. It is known to have come close to winning contracts from both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, although it is thought that the risk factor of the US government blocking the deal was too high for the mobile networks to tollerate. The company was also forced to abandon plans to take a minority stake in USA based 3Com after US politicians kicked up a fuss about national security concerns.
In the letter, the Senators Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Kit Bond (Mo.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Richard Burr (N.C.) and Susan Collins (Maine) said that they "are concerned that Huawei's position as a supplier of Sprint Nextel could create substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undermine U.S. national security."
The letter also cited a report by the Iraq Survey Group which claimed that Huawei sold communications technology to Saddam Hussein's regime in possible violation of U.N. sanctions, and it also supplied the Taliban before its fall.
The letter also claimed that British, French, Australian, and Indian intelligence agencies have either investigated Huawei or expressed concern that its products could facilitate remote hacking and thereby compromise the integrity of the telecommunications networks in their countries.
In a response, the company said that it "is disappointed to learn that old mischaracterizations about the company still linger and we want to reiterate some of the facts." Responding to the claims that the Chinese government or army are investors in the firm, "The truth is Huawei is an employee-owned private company. Government or military organizations do not hold any shares, or control the company in any form."
In order to boost its credentials with government officials, earlier this year the company was reported to have recruited John Bellinger, a senior official from the former President Bush administration as an advisor to the company.