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US Huawei problem goes far beyond trade, security official says

In a presentation at the multilateral action on sensitive technologies (MAST) conference, US State Department official Ashley Ford last week outlined why the US government’s security worries about Huawei go way beyond the ongoing trade war between the US and China. In May of this year, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order extending the federal ban on Huawei products to the private sector, citing security concerns.

Ford, who is the assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, said the implementation of Huawei technology renders countries vulnerable to threats to national security and economic prosperity. This is not a technical issue, but “a political and a geopolitical challenge”, Ford stated. The core issue is that Huawei cannot be trusted because the company, like Tencent, ZTE, Alibaba, Baidu and other Chinese tech firms, is subject to the final authority of the Chinese Communist Party. In Ford’s words: “If a Chinese technology giant has access to your technology, your information, or your networks and the party comes asking, the only answer the company can give is ‘Yes.’ This is, unfortunately, a fact of life in the high-technology police state that is the modern PRC.”

Ford also stated that Huawei and other Chinese tech giants enable the Chinese government to develop and implement “technology-facilitated surveillance and social control,” adding that “as these companies export their products and services to the rest of the world, the security and human rights problems associated with this ‘China Model’ are progressively exported with them.”

For more information regarding the China threat, check out OODA’s continuously updated China Threat Brief. Also see our special report on Your Strategy for This Phase of the Trade War – The short version is, stay agile!

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OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.