A U.S. Congressional probe is investigating whether China's state-linked firms, which built much of the communications infrastructure in several Asian countries, is using its access for snooping.
Men talk on mobile phones inside the Sergi Kosgi exhibition center in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan's capital, where Chinese firms built much of the telecom infrastructure / David Tilling
Two Chinese telecommunications giants are under scrutiny by a US congressional committee. The outcome of the probe could have revealing implications for Central Asian states, which have used these companies to modernize their telecom sectors.
US legislators have expressed concern that Huawei and ZTE act as front companies for the Chinese government, and represent a grave "cyber-security threat." The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, asserted during a congressional hearing last October that China is engaged in the "brazen and wide-scale theft of intellectual property from foreign commercial competitors."
"Attributing this espionage isn't easy, but talk to any private sector cyber analyst, and they will tell you there is little doubt that this is a massive campaign being conducted by the Chinese government," he added.
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ZTE and Huawei strenuously deny collaborating with the Chinese government to steal data. But on November 17, Rogers launched a committee probe into "into the threat posed by Chinese-owned telecommunications companies working in the United States, and the government's response to that threat."