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6 fmr. Pentagon leaders warn China’s 5G tech poses ‘grave concern’

The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (Dreamstime/TNS)
April 04, 2019

Prominent U.S. military leaders have cautioned against using Chinese technology and equipment on the new 5G wireless networks in a new statement released Wednesday.

Six former Pentagon leaders wrote a statement warning against the implications of using Chinese-supplied technology in networks that would carry sensitive information, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

“As military leaders who have commanded U.S. and allied troops around the world, we have grave concerns about a future where a Chinese-developed 5G network is widely adopted among our allies and partners,” they said.

The officials say that Chinese networking equipment, such as that developed by Huawei, could make the U.S. susceptible to cyberattacks, and the risk to the U.S. military is unacceptable.

“Chinese-designed 5G networks will provide near-persistent data transfer back to China that the Chinese government could capture at will. This is not our opinion or even that of our intelligence community, but the directive of China’s 2017 Intelligence Law, which legally requires that ‘any organization or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with’ the security services of China’s One-Party State,” the leaders said in the statement.

The former leaders who signed the letter are retired Adm. James Stavridis and retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, the two most recent commanders of NATO and U.S. European Command; retired Adm. Samuel Locklear III, former head of U.S. Pacific Command; former director of national intelligence, retired Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr.; retired Adm. Timothy Keating, of the U.S. Pacific Command; and retired Gen. Keith Alexander of the U.S. Cyber Command and NSA.

“While our concern is for future operations, the time for action is now,” they added.

The statement was released ahead of the NATO summit for foreign ministers held in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. has previously asserted that Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE are connected to the intelligence agency of the Chinese Communist Party, and are accused of using their devices to spy on U.S. military bases.

Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said last week, “If our allies and partners go with a Huawei solution, we need to reconsider how we share critical information with them.”

Currently, no U.S. companies supply all of the necessary 5G network equipment and components. Instead, U.S. telecom companies have been dealing with European suppliers Ericsson and Nokia, and well as South Korea’s Samsung.

The equipment derived from China poses a risk because “hidden ‘back doors’ to our networks in routers, switches — and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment – can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in March 2018, as Reuters reported.

Huawei maintains 28 percent of the global telecom equipment market share, and are a key player in 5G networks across the globe. The company has been heavily restricted from the U.S. since 2012, which has impaired the U.S.’s own 5G development.

Huawei has been banned in Australia, and the U.S. and Japan are considering their own. The Trump Administration reportedly has an executive order ready to implement the ban, but has not yet revealed it.

The European Union has also considered increasing regulations against Huawei over concerns of classified information theft due to spyware and microchips that could grant the Chinese government remote access to devices across the 5G network.