In a report due out Monday, U.S. lawmakers say the federal government should block a impending merger between two of China's largest telecom companies. Why? Obviously, they must be spies.
The companies in question, Huawei and ZTE, want to expand in the United States, but the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence wants nothing to do with the plan. Following a yearlong investigation, the committee's report says that the two companies, two of the largest companies in the world's largest country, would not cooperate and should therefore be viewed as a threat. "Huawei and ZTE have failed to assuage the committee's significant security concerns presented by their continued expansion into the United States," the report reads. "In fact, given their obstructionist behavior, the committee believes addressing these concerns have become an imperative for the country." To be more specific, the report says that China "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."
Obviously, Huawei and ZTE aren't happy about America's suspicious gaze. Testifying before the committee on September 13, Huawei senior vice president Charles Ding said, "Huawei has not and will not jeopardize our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers' networks for any third party, government or otherwise." Nevertheless, lawmakers are uncomfortable with Chinese-made telecommunications equipment being installed in American homes. According to the committee's report, they provide "a wealth of opportunities for Chinese intelligence agencies to insert malicious hardware or software implants into critical telecommunications components and systems."
This isn't the first time that the U.S. has made moves to stop Chinese business expansion in the name of national security. Just last week, the Obama administration called off a small Chinese energy company's plans to build a windfarm near a top secret U.S. Navy base in Oregon. That happens to be one of the bases where the military tests out its fleet of unmanned drones by flying high speed training drills at low altitude, and they'd rather not have a bunch of Chinese-owned windmills in the airspace. Windmills, after all, make great mounts for spy cameras.
If you think this all sounds kind of paranoid, you might be a little bit right. That said, China's already hacked into every major U.S. company, and military officials maintain that the country is a tremendous cyber security threat. Huawei and ZTE aren't just two random companies, either. They're two huge companies that do an undisclosed amount of work for the Chinese government, and again, they don't want to talk about the work the do for the Chinese government. Plus, it looks like at least one of them already ripped off the NBC logo -- more or less -- so they must be shady.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.