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Former head of CIA: Huawei engaged in espionage for Chinese state

Former CIA chief Michael Hayden accused the Chinese telecom company Huawei of colluding with the Chinese government.

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In 2011, the US Commerce Department blocked a bid from Huawei to build a national emergency wireless network, citing concerns about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. This prompted Huawei to publish an open letter to the US government denying security concerns, and requesting an investigation into the government’s claims.

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Last year, the US House Committee on Intelligence released an investigative report that found explanations of the relationship between the telecom company and the Chinese government to be unsatisfactory.

Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei was part of the People’s Liberation Army as well as a former military engineer.

Mr. Zhengfei denied that Huawei agreed to conduct espionage on behalf of Chinese security agents. “We don’t do this. We definitely say no to such topics,” Zhengfei said in an interview with New Zealand media outlets in May. An excerpted version of the interview was published on a blog maintained by Scott Skyes, the Head of International Media Affairs for Huawei.

Huawei was also excluded from bidding for a contract with Australia’s broadband network in 2012.

In the United Kingdom, Huawei has supplied British Telecom with equipment since 2005. On Thursday, Britain’s national security advisor announced that a review will be launched of Huawai’s services in the country. The company has a cyber-security evaluation center, but recent concerns have arisen that Huawei’s equipment could be used by Beijing to spy on the United States, according to the Guardian

During Hadyen's interview, the former CIA director recalls reviewing Huawei's briefing papers several years ago, when the company was trying to firmly establish itself in the United States. The briefs "said all the right things," Hayden recalls. 

"But God did not make enough briefing slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be okay." 

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