The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has reportedly accused Chinese telecom giant Huawei of receiving funds from the Chinese government, and the agency says it even has proof.
A British source told The Times on Monday that the CIA showed evidence to British officials that proved Huawei has received funding from the People’s Liberation Army, China’s National Security Commission and a Chinese intelligence agency.
The CIA had not confirmed or denied the report as of Monday morning.
— The Straits Times (@STcom) April 21, 2019
The evidence was shared during review processes ahead of 5G technology plans, and the exchange was made possible by the Five Eyes alliance that the U.S. and the U.K. share with Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
U.K.’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board said it had repeatedly identified “concerning issues in Huawei’s approach to software development bringing significantly increased risk to U.K. operators.”
Huawei denied the accusations reported by The Times, and a spokesperson insisted, “Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources.”
Huawei chief global communicator Joy Tan told Forbes in early April that “the assumption that the Chinese government can potentially interfere in Huawei’s business operation is completely not true. Huawei is a private company. The Chinese government does not have any ownership or any interference in our business operations.”
Huawei is highly regarded in China. It is the second leading smartphone company in the world, and is the largest producer of cellular and internet networking equipment.
The report of funding is not far removed from numerous reports over several years that Huawei was working directly with the Chinese government.
Huawei has long been suspected of facilitating surveillance or communication disruptions on behalf of the Chinese government. Huawei smartphones were banned from U.S. military bases last year over concerns of security threats.
In 2013, Michael Hayden, who formerly headed the CIA and U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), said he had reviewed evidence of Huawei’s spying for the Chinese government, Reuters reported at the time.
Hayden said Huawei “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with.”
Huawei rejected Hayden’s assertion, calling it “tired, unsubstantiated defamatory remarks” as Hayden served as the director of Motorola Solutions, which had a history of intellectual property litigation with Huawei for some years.
Huawei was founded by former People’s Liberation Army officer Ren Zhengfei, although he has denied continued connections to the Chinese government or receiving funding from them.
Zhengfei’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou, was named in a U.S. Department of Justice indictment in January for providing false information to the U.S. government to conceal illegal business conducted in Iran for more than 10 years, an act prohibited by U.S. sanctions.
In March, Canada began the process of extraditing Wangzhou to the U.S. after having detained her in early December at an airport in Vancouver. Her extradition hearing will be held on May 8, according to the Vancouver Sun.