By: Becky Bracken
Is it mere coincidence that Chinese gear manufacturers ZTE and Huawei have become the focal point of what essentially looks to be a public relations feeding frenzy for members of the U.S. House
Intelligence Committee at the very same time election season has reached its full-fevered, sweaty, smelly peak?
Politicians running for everything from local city councils to even the most politicized, publicized national contests regularly, angrily demand â€śfairerâ€ť trade with China as a tool to create jobs
and bolster a struggling economy. Keynes-versus-Hayek debates about economic theory aside, itâ€™s a narrative that resonates with everyday struggling folk looking for someone, anyone to be pissed
at about the whole mess.
Last month the House Intelligence Committee published its â€śInvestigative Report on the U.S. National Security Issues Posed by
Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE
,â€ť which calls for U.S. telcos to boycott Huawei and ZTE based on concerns the companies are participating in state-sponsored espionage that
poses a direct threat to U.S. national security. The report adds that executives from ZTE and Huawei failed to provide the committee with sufficient evidence to convince them they were not
engaging in spying and other nefarious activities, and therefore must be up to something. Hardly the burden of proof most companies would be able to shoulder.
â€śNeither company was willing to provide sufficient evidence to ameliorate the Committeeâ€™s concerns,â€ť the committee wrote in its report. â€śNeither company was forthcoming with detailed information
about its formal relationships or regulatory interaction with Chinese authorities. Neither company provided specific details about the precise role of each companyâ€™s Chinese Communist Party
The U.S. isnâ€™t the first government to investigate Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers. Earlier this year Australia barred Huawei from its National Broadband Network. Canadian
officials have opened investigations into ZTE and Huawei. And the European Union has placed a similar investigation on hold, reports say, because of fears of upsetting the critical free-trade
agreement it has in place with China, the EUâ€™s second largest.
Although the House Intelligence Committee report itself is light on evidence or specifics as to why so many lawmakers are convinced thereâ€™s something fishy going on, thereâ€™s no denying the
Chinese government has its fingerprints all over both companies. But is that really surprising given the nature of the communist state? And because telecommunications networks are of such vital
government interest, governments all over the globe have made broadband buildout their business (see: exhibits one and two, Australiaâ€™s National Broadband Network and the House Intelligence