China's Minister of Commerce Chen Deming harshly criticized a U.S. government report that labeled Chinese network vendors Huawei and ZTE as security threats. He said that the accusations in the report were "outrageous" and reflected a "Cold War mentality."
The comments, made to reporters Saturday, came against the backdrop of the Communist Party's 18th congress, a once-in-a-decade leadership transition in China. Chen suggested that the report could produce a response from China. "If you treat me like a Trojan horse, how do you expect me to respond?" he said in reply to a question, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
A report from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recommended in October that the United States block acquisitions and mergers involving Huawei and ZTE, and it also recommended that the U.S. government and U.S. companies avoid using equipment from the two Chinese companies. Huawei and ZTE pushed back aggressively against the report's conclusions, and have repeatedly said they do not pose a security threat and have no ties to the Chinese military or government. The Chinese government had earlier also denied the claims and has suggested that the report could set back relations between the United States and China.
Since the report was released, U.S. carriers have sought to distance themselves from Huawei and ZTE, even though many carriers sell Huawei and ZTE handsets (the report said Huawei and ZTE's mobile devices do not pose a security threat).
Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) confirmed last month that Huawei is one of the vendors that will build its planned TD-LTE network. Clearwire has said that Huawei's gear is deployed at the edge of the network, while the core network equipment is being provided by domestic vendors Cisco and Ciena. Clearwire picked Huawei as one of its RAN vendors after getting approval from the U.S. government.
Despite the rhetoric from China, Huawei executives have sought to ease tensions in recent days. In remarks recently at the 2012 Cloud Security Alliance Congress, Huawei's chief security officer, Donald "Andy" Purdy, reaffirmed Huawei's commitment to cybersecurity. Purdy noted that Huawei works with at least 400 U.S. companies, and that Huawei has an interest in keeping U.S. networks secure. "Those are thousands of jobs," Purdy said, according to TechTarget. "We are willing to work to help address the very difficult challenges of global supply chain risk."
In recent weeks it emerged that Huawei's north American CTO, Matt Bross, left the company to join Juniper Networks. Huawei has said his departure "was in no way related" to the committee's report.
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