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Huawei poses risks to national security, says ex-Google boss Schmidt

Jasper Hart
June 18, 2020

Competition needed to offer strong alternatives to Chinese vendor

Huawei poses risks to national security and has carried out unacceptable practices, according to former Google boss Eric Schmidt.

Speaking to the BBC, Schmidt, who is now chair of the Pentagon’s Defence Innovation Board, said: “There is no question that Huawei has engaged in some practices that are not acceptable in national security.”

“There’s no question that information from Huawei routers has ultimately ended up in hands that would appear to be the state,” he added. “However that happened, we’re sure it happened.”

The UK government is currently reviewing Huawei’s role in its 5G networks, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson looking at potentially reducing its presence to zero by 2023.

However, UK operators are adamant that banning the Chinese vendor from their networks would significantly delay their rollouts of the service.

Huawei has repeatedly denied accusations that it is a state-owned company, most recently likening its business model to that of John Lewis.

Schmidt told the BBC that western countries must compete with Huawei to offer countries strong choices in building network infrastructure, having previously underestimated the country’s ability to innovate.

“I have carried the prejudices about China in my years working with them – that they’re very good about copying things, that they’re very good at organising things, that they throw large numbers of people at it. But they’re not going to do anything new. They’re very, very good at stealing, if you will, our stuff. Those prejudices need to be thrown out.

“The Chinese are just as good, and maybe better, in key areas of research and innovation as the West.”

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