World / US and Canada

US spying on Huawei an undeclared invasion

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-28 06:57

The world's attention has been so focused elsewhere lately that the United States' latest aggression has gone largely unnoticed by many people.

I am not talking about the huge number of US troops being sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Grenada to invade and intervene, but an infiltration, codenamed Shotgiant, conducted by the National Security Agency into the e-mail servers of China's telecom giant Huawei Technologies. Shotgiant is aimed not just at spying on Huawei, but also Chinese leaders, government entities and banks, and potentially a long list of corporations and nations that use Huawei's equipment. So in a sense, it is not just an intrusion into China, but an invasion on a global scale.

The scandal, as exposed last weekend by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden through the New York Times and German weekly Der Spiegel, shows the reckless NSA spying behavior endorsed by the US government.

It would be laughable now for any US government leaders, Congressmen or intelligence chiefs to again talk about cyber security and bluff about such a threat from China or any other country. The US-China cyber security working group set up last year was meant to increase mutual trust and cooperation in the new arena, but the NSA activities have cast serious doubt on the sincerity of the US side.

What is even more shameless is that the US has not admitted any wrongdoing, but instead uses national security as a pretext to justify its actions. It is a pretext that has been overused by the US since Sept 11, 2001, to justify its conduct of invading the privacy of American citizens and the privacy of people around the world.

Huawei has condemned the despicable act. Senior Vice-President in North America William Plummer pointed out the irony that what the NSA is doing to Huawei is exactly what the US has always charged that the Chinese are doing through Huawei. "If such espionage has been truly conducted, then it is known that the company is independent and has no unusual ties to any government, and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis-and disinformation," Plummer said.

He is clearly referring to an October 2012 US House Intelligence Committee report which advised US companies to avoid doing business with Huawei and another Chinese telecom firm ZTE, citing national security concerns. No evidence was given in that report.

While people are waiting for any evidence to be presented by the US, including by President Barack Obama who is clearly aware of the NSA hacking, it may be too naive for them to believe that national security is actually the real or only reason behind the NSA act.

There is no doubt that too many interest groups, whether lawmakers, lobbyists and businesses, benefit and profit from fearmongering about China and Chinese tech companies.

That is probably also why many think tank folks and those so-called cyber security experts have shown no interest in analyzing the latest NSA scandal against Huawei. What about James Clapper, director of the National Intelligence, or Michael Hayden, the former chief of NSA and Central Intelligence Agency, or Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who presided over the release of the 2012 report against Huawei and ZTE, or even President Obama? All of them have been pointing fingers at China as a cyber security threat.

The latest revelations again show why the US government has been so vicious in hunting down Snowden, since only 1 percent of the materials he gave The Guardian have been made public so far. What about the remaining 99 percent?

It is time for the US to rectify Huawei's reputation. It is time for Obama to order a stop to the Shotgiant invasion and apologize. Otherwise the next time he gives an eloquent speech on the subject, people won't be able to feel any honesty, only slyness.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.

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