CFO arrest row: China denies Huawei poses security threat

Beijing,   China on Monday strongly defended Huawei after a warning from the EU that the tech giant posed a security risk, amid an ongoing row over the arrest of its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in Canada at the behest of the US.

In response to accusations by European Commission Vice President Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the government had never forced Huawei to install a covert access route on mobile phone units to control them.

“I want to emphasize that Chinese laws and regulations don’t allow any institution to force any enterprise to install a ‘backdoor’. The Chinese government always encourages its companies to abide by local laws and regulations,” Lu was quoted as saying by Efe news.

He reiterated Beijing’s demand of an immediate release of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 after the US accused the tech giant of selling equipment in Iran in violation of American sanctions.

Meng, who is also the daughter of the group’s founder and CEO, had a bail request rejected on Friday by a Canadian court.

EU’s Ansip said on Friday that the bloc should be “worried” about Huawei and other Chinese companies over the security risks they pose.

Ansip claimed that China was developing mandatory “backdoors” — malicious software that allows any phone unit to be accessed and controlled without the user’s knowledge.

In response, Lu said it was “ridiculous” to undermine the company based on “speculations”.

“We have noticed some people from certain countries keep saying that Huawei may threaten their national security. But they did not provide a single evidence,” the spokesperson said.

He stressed that the company had “won the trust of its partners” and signed agreements to build 5G networks with more than 20 countries, including Portugal, France and Germany.

The spokesperson also commented on Japan withdrawing Huawei and Chinese telecom giant ZTE from the government procurement list, due to alleged security breaches by the two firms.

“The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary (Yoshihide Suga) said the relevant regulations don’t aim to exclude the relevant enterprises or equipment. I want to stress that Chinese enterprises and cooperation in Japan is for mutual benefit,” Lu said.