Huawei Was a Czech Favorite. Now? It’s a National Security Threat.

from NYTs

For more than 1,000 years, the sprawling castle complex perched high above Prague has been the seat of power for Holy Roman emperors, the kings of Bohemia and, now, the Czech president, Milos Zeman. And for the last four years, the Chinese technology giant Huawei has had a contract to fulfill the communication needs of the president and his staff.

The presidential contract is the most visible symbol of how deeply Huawei has established itself in the Czech Republic, long viewed by China as a springboard country for its interests across the European Union.

So when the Czech government’s cybersecurity agency issued a directive in December warning that Huawei represented a potential national security threat, company officials were shocked — as was Mr. Zeman, known for his closeness to China. Huawei has threatened legal and financial retaliation. Mr. Zeman has accused his own intelligence services, including the cybersecurity agency, known as Nukib, of “dirty tricks.”

The unexpected confrontation in the Czech Republic comes as Huawei, already entangled in the trade war between China and the United States, is running into deepening problems in European Union countries, where it has worked for years to build inroads. Only weeks after Nukib issued its directive against Huawei, Polish authorities in January arrested a Huawei employee in Warsaw on charges of spying.

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7 Responses to Huawei Was a Czech Favorite. Now? It’s a National Security Threat.

  1. Cameron Lindley February 20, 2019 at 11:41 pm #

    This reminds me a lot of the Facebook situation in America. I find the Czech Republic to have a mistake in giving a foreign country so deep of access into their security systems. I think it would have been far safer to use an in-house company; even if the Czech president has deeply rooted ties to Chinese officials.

  2. Horace Bryce Jr February 26, 2019 at 9:30 pm #

    I agree with Cameron that this does in fact remind me a lot about the privacy problems America has with Facebook, It was definitely a mistake for the Czech government to give a foreign country access such as China access to their communication needs especially to that of the President and his staff. Such an act screams international turmoil, giving another country all the information it needs on the most important man in the country. I am interested in how the President of Czech did not think of the problems that could come with another country having access to all of the political information of a Czech being that countries has falling outs all of the time. It gets even weirder to me after it is stated that the company, Huawei, the Czech president hired was caught up in the trade war between China and the United States and also responsible for establishing inroads in European countries meaning that thy are conspiring a hostile attack. These situations alone are enough to know that there is a high possibility that Huawei could be a threat to national security. One thing that I did not know was that Huawei is responsible for the creation of the infrastructure of the fifth generation of wireless technology aka 5G. More surprisingly America regards the 5G technology as a national security issue. This makes me wonder whether or not I am also being monitored by the Chinese government in addition to Mark Zuckerberg. This leads me to the conclusion that countries will inevitably welcome new technology they know nothing about just in order to keep up with times. This is evident when it is stated by Dusan Navratil that, ” 5G will change the whole way societies function.” While the public might think of 5G as simply a matter of faster download times, the system is designed to be far more, linking everything from the cars we drive to the hospitals we visit in a way unimaginable only a decade ago.” We are blindly leaning to a more autonomous world and if China is the most technologically advance country (I looked it up) it must be the one with the reservation to the future throne replacing the united states as the world power. I find the trust in China hysterical because this is a country that has its own internet censored and monitored. EVEN GOOGLE IS BLOCKED! It is somewhat comforting to see all of these companies pull out of their contracts with Huawei, blocking it supplying equipment to public and private entities deemed critical to national security. But this leads me to wonder if China will in turn stop providing their technology or will they continue to do so in order to dig more inroads.

  3. Allya Jaquez March 1, 2019 at 9:12 am #

    I definitely agree with the comments above. I believe that the same problem happening to the Czech government is exactly what is occurring here in the United States. The Czech republic should have never given Huawei access to all of their security systems because they never know what their intentions were in the first place. They gave another country all the information that needs to be known about the President and everything he does which was definitely a huge mistake that was done. It mentions that Huawei was also caught making other horrible decisions like joining a trade war between China and the United States and they also did other things in the European countries. I wonder if they learned their lesson after trusting these people with very important information and if they will ever do it again with another country.

  4. Kyle Stephens March 1, 2019 at 1:17 pm #

    The Czech Republic and other countries involved with Huawei have made a huge mistake by allowing the company to play such a key role in their communications across the country. The Chinese are slowly becoming the top dog in the world since they are the manufacturing capital of the world. Being the main manufacturer of the world means you have so much more power than countries who buy from you. They can restrict their trade to nations putting them in a vulnerable position. That is what the Czech Republic is slowly doing to themselves. By creating good in roads with the Chinese and essentially allowing them to take a major role in their country, and then threatening Huawei puts them in a position where China could cut off all ties with hem including trade. This will put them at a severe disadvantage and cause them to have to sell less of their outputs because they need them for their own country.
    Although I think it was a bad move economically to start threatening and limiting Huawei’s access, I think it was the best possible move security wise. China was becoming to comfortable in the Czech Republic. They had been pushing for security clearance in the Czech Republic to work on critical infrastructure, such as the 5G network they aspire to put in across the entire Czech Republic. Thank god the Czech President, Milos Zeman, has not given them that access or the ability to work on the 5G system. Because had he done that and allowed Huawei, a Chinese company, to work on such a key infrastructure, then he would have given himself an Achilles heel. This is because Huawei has already had one employee arrested for spying, which means he was likely just feeding information back to the Chinese government, and if one did it then likely more will. And by allowing them to build the whole 5G network, you are giving them a free target to aim at and shut down that could cripple the entire country for an extended period of time leaving them vulnerable to cyber and physical attacks. Overall, the decision to do security checks on Huawei was a great security decision but an awful economic decision.

  5. Jack F Comfort March 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm #

    There’s a lot of different things going on in this article. Firstly, it seems as if the Chinese government is trying to get closer to foreign government with their communication company Huawei. They seem to want to get closer to these governments to hack into their security systems, or at least that’s what the Czech Republic cyber security council is saying. This on it’s own is a major political problem, where it get’s more interesting is the relationship between the president of the respective countries. They are known to be good friends with each other and they do a lot of business with each other. This has caused a divide to form between the cyber security council and the president of the Czech Republic. All of this seems to be out of spy thriller plot with major countries and councils in the countries turning on each other. Where this takes an even stranger turn is how Huawei is trying to implement the next generation of cellular service 5g, this new cellular service is supposed to revolutionize how society interacts with each other, The way this event finishes will be very entertaining to watch, barring some violent twist in the tale

  6. Nicholas Meyerback March 6, 2019 at 11:46 pm #

    Czech president Milos Zeman is kicking himself for a decision he made back in 2015. Nearly five years ago, President Zeman signed a contract with the telecommunications company Huawei to provide communication services for the president and his faculty. In December 2018 the Czech Republic’s Cybersecurity authority issued an official statement warning domestic corporations and the nation as a whole of Huawei’s national security threat. Huawei is suspected of including a way for the Chinese government to spy on users in the company’s products. Unsurprisingly, Huawei has denied allegations and is taking legal action against the state.

    The significance of a small Central European nation taking on the world’s largest producer of telecoms products is more than one might think. The quasi-accusations brought against the company have caused a ripple effect. Chinese companies have long-viewed the Czech Republic as a testing ground for expansion into the European Union. Czech response to the company and condemnation halts growth across Europe. However, President Zeman clearly sent a message to the world to steer clear of Huawei and firms that support communication infrastructure.

    It didn’t take long for President Trump, a man who has always been skeptical of Chinese corporations and their motives, to respond. In the months that followed the Czech accusations Trump has led an all-out campaign to dissuade the world from utilizing the telecoms company as a catalyst for launching 5G networks. This comes at a time when the United States is questioning who should harbor their 5G network expansion. Trump has already talked about Nationalizing 5G expansion. His plan is for the government to take over 5G and sell it to providers. For anyone who is aware of Trump’s tendency to favor budget cuts for government programs, this stance may come as a surprise. Even more shocking is that the strategy seems to negatively impact big business. General perception held that It was more likely for congress to allow businesses like Verizon and AT&T to pioneer nationwide 5G networks and sell the technology to the government. Trump is purposing to do just the opposite. However, there’s logical rationale in this stance. Trump is appealing to his base, rural Americans and farmers (the so called silent majority, who have steadfastly supported the president since the beginning. Trump’s plan will insure that no American gets left behind. Rural Americans that are typically the last to benefit from innovations like electricity and the internet will benefit in this proposition.

    Trump’s plan is more of a populist action then anything, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Like the National Highway Act and New Deal infrastructure programs (TVA, REA, CCC etc.) every American, regardless of social class will benefit. Additionally, a national 5G network that is equal across the board will help small business. With efficient internet speeds, small business will be able to spring up quite literally anywhere. In-fact, entrepreneurs should jump for joy after the repeal of Net Neutrality that will ultimately hinder their success.

  7. John Holliday March 7, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

    This was a real good read and I really learned a lot. I know Huawei is a China based technology company that manufactures and designs state of the art technology. The company has been stealing market share from Apple especially in China over the past couple years. However there is an ongoing problem with the company that the Czech leader outlined when they named Huawei as a national security threat due to cyber security reasons. Mr. Zeman who loved doing business with China before turned his back on the Chinese company. This isn’t the only headwind that Huawei has at the moment. Their is an ongoing trade war between the United States and China which is hurting their business due to tariffs. Also, the United States announced last week that businesses doing business with Huawei will see certain restrictions in the future. With this being said, it’s also important to note the the CFO of Huawei got arrested in Canada for fraud not to long ago. To conclude, if Huawei has this state of the art technology and years ahead of other major technology companies, what can Huawei due to change the negative sentiment around their name and get the public to fully trust them again?

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