This is how Huawei is associated with China’s state surveillance

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 15, 2021, 11:58 AM(IST)

Huawei technologies has dismissed questions pertaining to its role in China’s surveillance Photograph:( Reuters )

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World’s largest vendor of telecommunications gear, Huawei dismisses questions about its role in China’s state surveillance

Huawei technologies for a long time has dismissed questions pertaining to its role in China’s state surveillance. While the company claims that it is selling general-purpose networking gear, a report by The Washington Post suggests that the company has had a bigger role than what has been told. 

China is trying to build, what is being dubbed as one of the world's most sophisticated surveillance technology. Security officials in the Henan province of China have authorised a surveillance system through which they aim to track journalists and international students and various other "suspicious people."

The Washington Post reviewed over 100 Huawei PowerPoint presentations, out of which many were marked as "confidential."

The presentations depict how the company's technologies can help the government identify individuals by voice. It can also help in monitoring political individuals, managing ideological reeducation and labour schedules for prisoners. 

In response, the company issued a statement saying, "Huawei has no knowledge of the projects mentioned in the Washington Post report. Like all other major service providers, Huawei provides cloud platform services that comply with common industry standards.”

Huawei’s public denial further raises a major question about the transparency at the world’s largest vendor of telecommunications gear. 

Also read | 'Sophisticated surveillance technology': Chinese province targets 'suspicious people'

Huawei had earlier said that it has not developed or sold systems that target any specific group of people. However, the Washington Post reviewed over 3,000 PowerPoint slides. These slides highlighted the surveillance projects co-developed by Huawei. Five of the most relevant slides included - Voice recording analysis, prison and detention centre monitoring, location tracking, Xinjiang surveillance, and corporate monitoring. 

Many of these slides showed surveillance functions that are specific to police and government agencies. Some of these surveillance products were also listed in a Huawei online catalogue as of this month. 

While many have been removed from the catalogue, but they are still visible in various government procurement documents. 

The Chinese embassy in Washington has deemed the criticism of the company as groundless. “Huawei has long publicly expressed its readiness to sign a ‘no back door’ agreement and to set up a cyber security assessment center in any country to receive external scrutiny,” it said. 

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