By Adam Satariano
A Huawei executive defended the company’s security practices in the face of tough questioning from members of the British Parliament on Monday, as the Chinese technology giant seeks to contain a US-led effort to ban it around the world.
John Suffolk, Huawei’s global cybersecurity and privacy officer, appeared at a hearing in the House of Commons about the safety of Britain’s telecommunications infrastructure. British leaders are facing pressure from the Trump administration to follow America’s lead in banning Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment.
The United States has argued Huawei is beholden to the Chinese government, poses a grave national security threat and should not be allowed to help build the new high-speed, next-generation networks known as 5G that will debut in the coming years.
At the hearing, Suffolk said Huawei was independent and would never undermine the safety of its equipment to satisfy demands from Beijing. “There are no laws in China that obligate us to work with the Chinese government,” he said during questioning.
Britain is weighing whether to allow Huawei to play a role in its new 5G networks. The company’s equipment is already being used in the country, but US authorities have raised new questions about the gear and the risks it poses to national security. The United States has threatened to restrict the intelligence it shares with countries that allow Huawei in its 5G networks.
Huawei has become a central piece of the trade dispute between the United States and China. After the US government recently blacklisted Huawei and threatened the company’s access to US technology, Beijing has moved to retaliate against US companies. Over the past week, Chinese authorities summoned major international tech companies to warn that they could face consequences if they cooperate with the Trump administration’s ban on sales of key US technology to Chinese companies.
British authorities have for years subjected Huawei products and code to review at a security facility outside London. While British intelligence officials have said the risk of Huawei can be mitigated, a government report issued in March highlighted “significant” security problems with the company’s equipment. The report didn’t link any of the flaws to the Chinese government.