Japan is considering following the U.S. government’s lead by banning the Chinese telecommunication companies Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp, both of which have been accused of spying for the Chinese government.
Cybersecurity officials in Japanese government’s Cabinet Office have said they are looking into introducing restrictions “to reduce the risk of infiltration through imported equipment, including equipment made by the Chinese companies,” writes The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. barred Huawei and ZTE hardware from the public-sector IT systems.
But in June, ZTE paid a $1 billion penalty fine to the U.S. to remain in business. The telecom company was caught violating U.S. sanctions by working with Iran and North Korea, causing the U.S. Department of Commerce to sign an order in April barring U.S. companies from selling software to ZTE for seven years.
Huawei, on the other hand, was caught spying on the U.S. telecommunications network six years ago and was shut out from U.S. carriers.
Huawei has appealed to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claiming that the company has been unfairly cut off by the U.S. government.
“Open competition promotes both innovation and investment,” said Huawei in a filing made August 20 to the trade commission. “Unfortunately, competition in the US telecommunications market has not been fully open for a long time. Instead, Huawei and certain other foreign entities have faced, and continue to face, regulatory intervention that has inhibited their ability to compete on merit.”
Huawei claims that U.S. government agencies have made false claims about the company being a national security risk.
“In recent months, several US government agencies have targeted Huawei in a series of market interventions, citing vague and unfounded security concerns,” said Huawei said in a statement on Wednesday.
Australia also banned both ZTE and Huawei from its 5G infrastructure with new rules that now “ban equipment vendors that could be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government,” writes South China Morning Post.
Huawei also condemned Australia’s decision saying it diminishes fair trade practices and keeps costs higher for consumers.
But Marise Payne, Australia’s new foreign affairs minister, was quick to defend her government’s move to bar these equipment vendors.
“It’s targeted and aimed at solely protecting Australia’s national interests, and the protection of Australia’s national security. That is our first responsibility as a government, it’s our first responsibility as a national security committee,” said Payne.
It looks like Japan might be next. However, one of the Japanese cybersecurity officials said that Japan isn’t being influenced by the recent decisions by the U.S. and Australia.
To bar both Huawei and ZTE won’t be easy considering Japan’s lofty goal of rolling out 5G mobile technology before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“Huawei and ZTE together accounted for roughly 9% of Japan’s telecom-equipment market in 2017, according to IHS Markit Technology,” writes The WSJ. “Japan is racing to roll out so-called fifth generation networks next year, ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Japan’s carriers are already placing orders for software and equipment that they spent years developing with Huawei, analysts said. Japan’s biggest cellphone carrier, NTT DoCoMo Inc., as well as the No. 3 carrier, the Japanese mobile unit of SoftBank Group Corp. , say they have conducted field trials with Huawei, in accordance with instructions from Japan’s communications ministry.”
Author’s note: Both Huawei and ZTE have proven that they can’t be trusted. But this begs the question, has the damage already been done? This equipment is already being used all over the world, meaning China has spying software everywhere.
Editor’s note: Should we be looking at all equipment manufactured in China? Their intelligence service is one of their most powerful entities, any company in the country would have to follow their edicts.