Huawei calls on U.S., others to show proof of security risk

DONGGUAN, China — The chairman of Huawei called on the United States, Australia and other governments on Tuesday to provide evidence to back up claims the Chinese tech giant is a security risk as it launched a public relations effort to defuse fears that threaten its role in next-generation communications.

Accusations against the biggest global supplier of network gear stem from “ideology and geopolitics,” Ken Hu said. He warned excluding Huawei from the rollout of fifth-generation telecoms would raise costs and hamper innovation.

Hu talked to American, European and Asian reporters who were invited to Huawei headquarters in southern China as part of efforts to tamp down concerns the company says are unfounded.

If governments have evidence, “it should be made known,” Hu said, adding that governments don’t have to disclose information publicly but at least should show phone companies that will be blocked from using Huawei technology.

Australia and New Zealand have blocked use of Huawei technology in 5G networks. The U.S. and Taiwan also restrict use of Huawei products. Japan’s cybersecurity agency says suppliers including Huawei that are considered high-risk will be excluded from government procurement.

No government has released evidence of wrongdoing by Huawei, but the accusations threaten its ability to compete in a sensitive field as carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars.

Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former military engineer, is China’s first global tech brand and a national champion at the head of an industry Beijing is promoting as part of efforts to transform the country into a technology creator.

That puts Huawei at the heart of strains over the ruling Communist Party’s technology aspirations, competition with Western economies and ties between companies and government, including possibly spying.

Huawei took a new hit on Dec. 1 when its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver on U.S. charges of lying to banks about transactions with Iran.

China has detained two Canadians in an apparent bid to pressure Canada not to extradite Meng to the United States.

Huawei has been working on 5G since 2009 and is one of the major suppliers of the technology, along with Sweden’s LM Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Corp. The company whose technology winds up being adopted stands to reap billions of dollars from sales and license fees.

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