Former US Spy Chief Says Huawei Spied for Chinese Government

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A former head of the USA's spy agency the CIA has said that western security agencies believe that China's Huawei has carried out spying activities on behalf of the Chinese government.

There have been repeated claims that the firm has acted as an agent for the Chinese government, although it has always denied this, and so far, most of the allegations seem founded more on the secretive nature of the company structure than any tangible evidence of actual spying activity.

Michael Hayden who was head of both the CIA and the NSA for nearly a decade up to 2008 told the Australian Financial Review that Huawi had "at a minimum" shared "intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved in." with the Chinese government.

Whether this was commercial information or details useful for a military function is not clear, but General Hayden warned that for the Chinese government, spying is rarely limited to military assets, but it targets commercial secrets just as willingly, seeing them as legitimate assets.

That distinction and difference from most other spy agencies who tend to focus on national security issues may be why Huawei can maintain that it doesn't work on behalf of the military, while still being accused of spying -- when it may be tapping into commercial secrets instead.

General Hayden's comments are certainly the clearest statement from any security official as to their concerns about Huawei and its links with the Chinese military. He is however referring to events that would have taken place at least five years ago.

Michael Hayden was actually targeted by Huawei to represent the company during its attempts to enter the US market, considering that having a former head of the CIA on side would help overcome US political concerns about the company.

Having reviewed the company though, Hayden said that "it is simply not acceptable for Huawei to be creating the backbone of the domestic telecommunications network in the United States, period."

"This is not blind prejudice on my part. This was my considered view based on a four-decade career as an intelligence officer." he added.

When asked directly if Huawei represented an unambiguous national security threat to the USA and Australia, Gen. Hayden replied "Yes, I believe it does".

It goes without saying that Huawei denies the allegations.

On the web: Australian Financial Review

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