Who’s afraid of Huawei?
During the Senate deliberation last year on the budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto expressed concern on the planned video surveillance system of the DILG for Metro Manila and Davao City. With a budget of P20 billion, the DILG intends to install 12,000 closed-circuit television cameras, to be supplied by Chinese tech company Huawei, in strategic points in the two cities.
Recto warned that the project might compromise the local telco infrastructure since the contractor, China International Telecommunication Construction Corp., is an affiliate of China Telecommunications Corp., also a partner of Mislatel Consortium, which recently won the rights to be the next major telco service provider in the country.
The planned surveillance system, to be set up under the first phase of the “Safe Philippines Project,” was one of the 29 agreements signed between the Philippines and China during the Manila visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping last month.
Recto’s concerns may have some basis in fact, and should be given serious thought by the Duterte administration.
In its website, Huawei says it is now the world’s leading provider of information and communications technology infrastructure and smart devices. Founded in 1987, it has 180,000 employees and operates in more than 170 countries.
It says it is a private company “fully owned by its employees,” implying that the state and the communist leadership in Beijing have nothing to do with its operation.
But Steven W. Mosher, author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order,” revealed some disturbing facts about Huawei after the arrest on Dec. 6, 2018, of its executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, Canada. Meng is now under house arrest and awaiting extradition to the United States, for allegedly violating US sanctions by doing business with Iran and committing bank fraud by disguising the payments Huawei received in return.
In his online article, Mosher said that “Princess” Meng, as she is called, is Communist royalty. Her grandfather was a close comrade of Chairman Mao during the Chinese Civil War who went on to become vice governor of China’s largest province. She is the daughter of Huawei’s founder and chair, Ren Zhengfei.
Huawei has surpassed Apple this year to become the second-largest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung, according to Mosher. The company’s new superfast 5G networks, which are 100 times faster than 4G, will literally run the world of the future. “Everything from smartphones to smart cities, from self-driving vehicles to, yes, even weapons systems, will be under Huawei’s control,” said Mosher. “In other words, whoever controls the 5G networks will control the world — or at least large parts of it.”
The United States, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have already waged a concerted campaign to block Huawei from dominating next-generation wireless networks. Japan also issued instructions last December that, according to the Japan Times, “will effectively exclude Chinese telecommunication equipment giants Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. from public procurement” beginning April this year.
Mosher pointed out that Beijing’s top leadership declared, first in 2015 and then in June 2017, that all Chinese companies must collaborate in gathering intelligence. Under China’s national intelligence law, all organizations and citizens are required “to support, assist with, and collaborate in national intelligence work, and guard the national intelligence work secrets they are privy to.” Thus, all Chinese companies, whether private or state-owned, are now part and parcel of the party’s massive overseas espionage campaign.
Quoting Director Christopher Wray of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mosher said Huawei’s smartphones can be used to “maliciously modify or steal information,” as well as “conduct undetected espionage.” Earlier this year, the Pentagon banned the devices from all US military bases worldwide.
Need we say more?
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Alito L. Malinao is the former news editor of the Manila Standard. He is on leave as journalism professor at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and is the author of the book “Journalism for Filipinos.”
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