China · Huawei · Information operations

Rep. Frank Wolf, what’s with you and Huawei?

Official Congressional portrait of Congressman...
Official Congressional portrait of Congressman Frank Wolf. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), 10th District, what’s with you and Huawei?  I read your press release, “Wolf: Be Wary of Huawei Smartphones and Tablets” that you released on 19 March 2012. The following quote I found interesting:

Wolf said it is important for the American public to know that Huawei smartphones and tablets – and the network equipment it provides to U.S. carriers – could be subject to espionage by the Chinese government.

What are you saying, Mr. Congressman?  Are you saying there are backdoors built into the equipment? Are you saying there is malicious code embedded in the software? Are you saying there is spyware hardwired into the chips?  Are you saying there is something ‘undetectable but nefarious’ built into Huawei equipment?  To me that’s like saying “there’s something bad in there.  I don’t know what it is, but I feel it in my bones.”

I just came from a very interesting conference held at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.  The subject was: Telecoms and the Huawei conundrum.  At issue was how the United States Government is seemingly prejudicially treating Huawei – and is it warranted.  Mentioned was a snarky phone call by a Secretary of Commerce to not allow Huawei to fairly compete for telecommunications contracts because…  well, just because. Also mentioned were other accusations of not allowing Huawei to compete because of ‘national security concerns’.

Pardon my French, but that’s about the most bullshit reason I’ve heard in a long time.  I asked the following question during the conference of the panelists.  It does not reveal classified information if you answer yes or no.  It does not reveal sources, methods, capabilities or limitations.

Does the United States Intelligence Community have any hard intelligence connecting Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to the PLA or the PRC, doing any intelligence collection on their behalf?

I did get one of the panelists to say that another Chinese telecommunications corporation had been caught doing that, but the answer seems to be ‘no’.  During the conference, however, it was also revealed that the other three Chinese telecommunications corporations were State owned.  In other words, they are an official extension of the government and we’d expect them to pass information to the PRC or the PLA.  Taking this one tiny, logical step further, Huawei is a private company and does not work as an extension of the Chinese government or its military. Honestly, they are so squeaky clean, they really are going to incredible lengths to just prove themselves equal.

Then there is the issue of Huawei leadership having past military connections.  The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, was an army engineer in the early 1980s, according to John Markoff of the New York Times. I mean, jeez, name one American General who, upon retirement, didn’t serve on a board, start up his/her own company and stay involved?  Ren wasn’t even a General…

Let me be frank for moment.  I trust the Chinese as far as I can throw them, don’t forget I am a retired military intelligence officer and ex-Special Forces. I know they’re taking every opportunity they can to steal our intellectual property, I know lots of their hackers are trying to break into our systems every day and I know lots of malicious code has originated over there. In my heart I am convinced the Chinese are waging economic war against us using our computers, networks and systems as laid out in “Unrestricted Warfare“.  At the same time I know that all countries of the world are spying on everyone else, there are few exceptions.

But facts are facts, innuendos and shadowy accusations are not.

I’ll be seeing the Congressman at George Mason University, Monday, March 26th, 2012, 9:30 am to 3:15 pm at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, George Mason University Prince William Campus, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20109.  Rep. Frank Wolf speaks from 1000 to 1200 (starts upon arrival). It doesn’t look like the Congressman will be taking questions, but I’ll try.

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), do we have any hard intelligence?  Yes or no, Sir.  Yes or no.  You’re being called to the plate, so man up.