SHENZHEN, CHINA — One day after the United States effectively banned Chinese telecom titan Huawei from building next-generation “5G” mobile networks in the United States, the company warned the move would harm American workers.
“It will do significant harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business,” the company said, and “affect tens of thousands of American jobs.”
The company added it would quickly “find a resolution” to the ban and work to “mitigate” its impact.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bars American companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies that pose a national security risk.
The order, which declares a national emergency, is the first step toward formalizing a ban on doing business with Huawei. The United States also warned other countries about Huawei’s national security risks.
Huawei has been making extraordinary pledges to win over its critics and dispel allegations that it is a security threat. The company has said it will quit its business if forced to spy on its customers and its company chairman Liang Hua has offered to sign “no spy” agreements as well.
Speaking through an interpreter during a visit to London, Liang said Huawei is willing “to commit ourselves to making our equipment meet the no-spy, no-backdoors standard.”
It is unclear what Liang means by “no-spy, no-backdoors” since Huawei, like all technology companies, requires users to sign agreements acknowledging that the company may share their personal information if required by local authorities.
Most technology companies, such as Google and Facebook, disclose these government information requests in regular public reports. The companies explain when they comply with the government requests and when they challenge them in court.
Sharing data with Beijing?
There is no information about what data Huawei hands over to Beijing authorities. If Chinese officials determine a matter involves “state secrets” or a criminal investigation, officials can legally justify intercepting any communication. Critics say Beijing defines “state secrets” so loosely that it can cover virtually anything.
In his comments to reporters, Liang says Huawei does not act on behalf of China’s government in any international market.
According to Reuters, he also denies that China’s laws require companies to “collect foreign intelligence for the government or plant back doors for the government.” Liang added that Huawei is also committed to following the laws and regulations of every country where it does business.
Independent business or state organ?
Huawei says it has signed 40 contracts to build 5G networks, more than 20 of which are in Europe. It has already shipped 70,000 base stations for installation, all to locations outside of China. Base stations are a key component of the infrastructure needed to build the new network.
Huawei spokesperson Joe Kelly that maintaining the trust of its customers is key to the company’s continued success.
“Today, with 4 billion people around the world [using our products], at the scale at which we operate, if we were installing back doors and taking data, our carriers would be aware, they would see it for themselves and then they would stop doing business with us,” he said.
In the 5G debate, Huawei has voiced its willingness to stake the company’s continued success on its commitment to security.
U.S. officials have suggested that if countries choose to trust Huawei for their 5G network, Washington may reassess sharing information with them.
The executive order that was signed by President Trump on Wednesday not only paves the way for a formal ban on Huawei from building networks in the United States.
According to the Commerce Department, Huawei and 70 other affiliates will be added to what is called an “Entity List,” which will make it more difficult for the company and other entities to buy parts and components from U.S. businesses.