US Blocks Chinese Company From Contract Bid: Worried China Might Spy On US Just As US Spied On Others

from the what's-sauce-for-the-goose-is-sauce-for-the-gander dept

Preserving national security is obviously crucially important, but that concern is hardly the preserve of any one country. The US government seems to have forgotten this in banning Huawei from bidding for a major US telecommunications contract:

Worried about potential spying, the U.S. government has blocked a bid from China’s telecommunications giant Huawei to help build a new national wireless network for first responders such as police, firefighters, and ambulances.

Huawei “will not be taking part in the building of America’s interoperable wireless emergency network for first responders due to U.S. government national-security concerns,” Commerce Department spokesman Kevin Griffis told The Daily Beast.

What's the fear here?

Griffis declined to elaborate on those concerns. But current and retired U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast the longstanding concern about Huawei is that the company’s chips, routers, and other technical equipment will be bugged in a way that gives China’s government a cyber back door into sensitive information networks.

The technique of bugging equipment or writing software in such a way as to allow undetected access has also been used by U.S. intelligence agencies in the past to gain a window into the communications of other foreign governments.

So, in effect, the US government is worried that the Chinese might do to it what the US has done to other governments.

That's a perfectly reasonable fear: by now, the Chinese intelligence agencies doubtless have the technological capability to do so. But China actually has rather more grounds for concern when buying US communications technology or software: after all, the US has already carried out spying in this way.

This latest move just gives China the perfect excuse for blocking US companies bidding for "sensitive" Chinese projects in the future. When the US complains – as it surely will – the Chinese will simply point back to this episode, noting the symmetry of the situation, and their own worries about national security.

Wouldn't it have been wiser to come up with better tools for detecting attempts to introduce back doors into hardware and software? That would have raised the US's general readiness in this area against all such threats, not just those from China, and would not have given China or any other country a pretext for shutting the US out from their markets.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    A Guy (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 7:59pm

    I think you're forgetting that China already uses several means to block US competition in their country and elsewhere. This seems like an intelligent move on the US's part.

    In fact, I bet Chinese actions in the US/China dynamic is behind a lot of the political will to pass the asinine IP laws that are discussed here.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:02pm

    Christ, now a China apologist too. You are a worthless sack of shit Moody.

     

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  3.  
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    Blake (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:12pm

    The choice against Huawei is quite likely to be more about spying than they admit.

    Not only would the US Govt be worried about China putting in back doors on their turf. The US Govt would want whichever US company that builds the network to put in their own back doors so that the US Govt can spy on it's own people.

    With Huawei involved, the US Govt wouldn't be able to keep that secret. Not that it's a huge secret with all the warrantless wiretapping going on.

     

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  4.  
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    Kaden (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:30pm

    Re:

    Where are your manners, son?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:39pm

    The Chinese are so innocent though right?

    Yet you fail to mention how the Chinese have hired countless hacking groups in their country to hack, infiltrate, steal company secrets all in the name of their government...So they should just listen to your article, blame the US and let the Chinese spy on our networks which would in fact happen. I would love to live in this naive Disneyland esque world you live in.

     

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  6.  
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    The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:56pm

    If a US firm bids on a telecom project in China...

    ... they'd just be selling telecom equipment to the Chinese that has been manufactured in China, so the Chinese would just be spying on themselves.

    Oh, wait... They do that already.

    Sorry, my bad.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Larry, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:00pm

    Um, yeah...

    China would likely be using US built tech if selected to build the contracted network.

    Example:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110522/23484014387/cisco-sued-helping-china -repress-falun-gong.shtml

    Is Cisco helping other countries "manage" their wide area networks? Sure. Wonder how much control they'll really have if push comes to shove.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:01pm

    Re:

    and who are you?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:15pm

    Given that most cyber attacks come from China and somehow make it through their great firewall, I'd say it's a safe assumption the chinese can't be trusted with our infrastructure.

    That's not to say the US is any different, but I trust my evil empire more than I trust theirs.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Hahahahahahaha. I'm being called out....... anonymously?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:17pm

     

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  12.  
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    William, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:24pm

    Meh

    Usually you're pretty accurate, but this time I call bull. China has a long history of human rights violations, and while some would say the US does as well, it's unfair to compare with the atrocities the Chinese commit.

     

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  13.  
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    Colin (profile), Oct 18th, 2011 @ 9:33pm

    Chances are though that a large amount of the equipment any other supplier provides to fulfill this contract will be made in China (or have substantial portions made in China), so the back doors may be there anyway.

     

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  14.  
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    Gnosti, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 10:28pm

    Heh

    It's like the old adage goes, "The only thing a thief hates is another thief". Well, that and greater regulations and oversight on their thieving.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not the one delivering personal attacks to someone who is not anonymous. If you want to deliver personal attacks to a non-anonymous person, don't expect people to take you seriously when you're anonymous and provide no transparency with regard to your background.

     

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  16.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 11:11pm

    If You Want An Example Of What The US Has Done ...

    ... go read about the Crypto AG case.

     

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  17.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:25am

    In Dutch we have a saying that says: "The way the inn-keeper is, is the way he trusts his guests."

     

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  18.  
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    dv, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:37am

    spying?

    The scare isn't spying, I think. Rather, the concern is being able to shit down first responder networks.

     

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  19.  
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    The eejit (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 3:36am

    Re: The Chinese are so innocent though right?

    Whoosh.

    The US Government did this as recently as last year, and that was documented. So I find it amusing that the US is all high and mighty about this now, when it's probably been an issue for many years.

     

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  20.  
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    ahow628 (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 5:24am

    Made in the USA

    It's a good thing that whatever US firm is chosen will use equipment sourced, manufactured, and assembled in the US. None of that stuff will come from or occur in China. Am I right or am I right?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 5:36am

    This is one case where I do agree with the US government, and if other countries did this I agree with them too.

    And the fact that the government is willing to risk a trade war over it just may put some value into the words of those people, you are risking something, this is not something that comes easy.

    I don't think any government in the world should trust a third party with their infra-structure this is something every country in the world should strive to get it done at home.

    This is why the US has little saying when it comes to GPS competitors that sprung up all over the world nobody will put their own missiles in the trust of the American controlled system, not the Europeans, not the Chinese, not the Russians and not even the Japanese, these are all the countries that have their own GPS like constellations of satellites, with only the Europeans the only other group who will have global coverage.

    And yes this is a form of discrimination and most probably is a trade violation, and it is good that people make noise about it and all that so it doesn't become the rule and it starts to be used a lot, but I will look the otherside on this one.

     

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  22.  
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    aikoaiko2, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 5:45am

    Re: Meh

    I'm no fan of China, but it is perfectly fair to compare the US's record of human rights violations to China's. The US incarcerates more people, per capita, then any other country in the world, we run our own goulog (Gitmo), and have started to export our laws by attempting to prosecute foreign nationals. China has no love for its people, but the US seems to be holding ots own.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 5:56am

    So your argument is that the U.S. is hypocritical if we want to protect ourselves against behaviors that we ourselves have engaged in? Like nuclear weapons, unprovoked invasion and espionage? How's the weather in your fantasy world?

     

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  24.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 6:34am

    "Wouldn't it have been wiser to come up with better tools for detecting attempts to introduce back doors into hardware and software?"

    Doesn't the DMCA or some other poorly written law disallow you from even trying?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    G, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 6:46am

    Is this supposed to be some sort of moral argument about U.S. spying? Wrong bark. Wrong tree.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 9:50am

    Like when Boeing sold China their Air Force 1 equivalent and the Chinese found dozens of bugs planted within it? Haha. Our government is seriously incompetent.

     

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  27.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:41am

    Intel

    > So, in effect, the US government is worried
    > that the Chinese might do to it what the US
    > has done to other governments.

    Yep. That's the way the intelligence business works. You do to them, then guard against them doing it to you.

    Just like we do everything we can to keep foreign intelligence agencies from spying on us, while at the same time operating a group you may have heard of called the CIA, whose sole mission is to do to other countries exactly what we don't want them doing to us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: The Chinese are so innocent though right?

    > So I find it amusing that the US is all high
    > and mighty about this now, when it's probably
    > been an issue for many years.

    I find it amusing how deeply naive so many people here seem to be.

    Yes, the US tries to prevent foreign nations from spying.

    Yes, the US spies on foreign nations.

    Welcome to the real world. EVERY country does this. It's how the intelligence business works and has done for centuries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: spying?

    > the concern is being able to shit down first
    > responder networks

    Yeah, that can get messy. The last thing you want during a crisis is a bunch of shit clogging up your network. ;-)

     

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  30.  
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    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    it is amusing, true.

    though the point, which is 'and why the hell should we take any meaning from your statement other than that you're a spiteful arse', stands none the less.

     

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  31.  
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    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: The Chinese are so innocent though right?

    pretty sure no one was disagreeing with that bit. or if they were i missed it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    i fail to see why. Other evil empires can't screw over your day to day life. yours can. other evil empires aren't affected if you know what they're up to, yours is, and so on and so forth.

    then again, 'trust' can mean many things. (trust someone to be honest, trust them to be predictable, trust them to have your best interests as a primary objective, trust them not to be an idiot...) some are more dependant on the availability of data and past actions than on actual trustworthyness, i guess.

     

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  33.  
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    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Re:

    i'd say yes, it's hypocritical, at least on some levels.

    doesn't mean it's necessarily Wrong. (doesn't make it necessarily Right either...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Chargone (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    since when did that stop governments doing it anyway?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The Chinese are so innocent though right?

    > pretty sure no one was disagreeing with that
    > bit. or if they were i missed it.


    Well, the article itself seems to be pointing out a double-standard or hypocrisy by the US.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Yang Changshi, Oct 19th, 2011 @ 7:59pm

    Down with all anti-china fools and morons and let them be removed from the senate, congress and admin now!

    Down with all anti-china fools and morons and let them be removed from the senate, congress and admin now!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    timmaguire42 (profile), Oct 23rd, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Chinese are so innocent though right?

    Exactly. The childish ignorance of this article is impressive. Every country spies, every country tries to stop others from spying on them. That's how it works, that's how it has always worked, that's how it should work.

    The notion that there is something hypocritical about that is, well...hypocrisy is irrelevant to international relations. As it should be.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Uncle B, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    The Dance

    All part of the dance between Asian super-intelligentsia and communist central planning committee the year plans and America's four year scramble for who's boss next! It does not really matter much, as Asian technologies pull ahead of American technologies, as Asians show a scientific flexibility where Americans show ruts, dug in corporations, sunk money corporately protected, legacy inertia, and "hardening of the arteries" where even 'muscle cars' are foisted on a population needing bullet trains,cheap and effective public transportation for workers, and foreign oil consumption maintains the "status quo" even after decades of knowing full well the Prairie Wind Corridor wastes more Btu's than America consumes, the South Western America Solar losses exceed even this! All Domestic (no "parasite" oil nation support required)all cheaper, paybacks calculated in terms of decades,and yet America turns her back on the final economic solution to her dilemma! no! This time around war will not resove the economic depression! Israel must not play the American war card for America by engaginf with Iran! Iran os China's "Gasoline Tank" is so well defended, and the Chinese will simply "suggest" that American Military 'Stand Down" as they obliterate Israel from the face of the earth, leaving only glazed earth there as a reminder to all, and a place as a footnote in history. America, on pain of losing her U.S.Dollar will quietly obey! What "counter-offer has Israel? Can Israel destroy the U.S.Dollar? Can Israel wage war against all Asia? China? even north Korea? Can the u.S.A.? Without "Conscription" and "pogroms" like in Europe once upon a time, of bitter hatred breaking out in the U.S. ? Bet the u.S, tends to its gaping horrors at home before advising the rest the world on 'how it should be". Time to withdraw, consolidate, recuperate the forces, heal the wounds, tend the battle-fatigued, and gain strength for at least a generation.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    1Piece, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

    Let's all hold hand together now and sing KUMBAYA!!! my fren KUMBAYA!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    James, Mar 14th, 2013 @ 9:23pm

    Re:

    Yeah, the bugs we wanted them to find....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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