Things are getting even worse for Chinese telecom giant Huawei. British Telecom, one of the U.K.’s largest internet providers, said this week it will not use Huawei’s equipment in its 5G mobile network when it is rolled out in the U.K., according to the BBC. Japan is also reportedly limiting the use of Huawei components in government-backed networks.
These moves date back to 2012, when Huawei and its rival Chinese telecom, ZTE Corp, were the subjects of a U.S. congressional investigation into whether their equipment could pose a threat to U.S. security. Congress issued a report concluding that “Huawei did not fully cooperate with the investigation and was unwilling to explain its relationship with the Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party, while credible evidence exists that it fails to comply with U.S. laws.”
Those findings led the U.S. to launch a movement called Five Eyes, made up of the United States, Canada, the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia to monitor the Huawei situation, with Japan and Germany following along at home. The movement now appears to be reaching some sort of crescendo, with four of the Five Eyes banning Huawei, and Canada reportedly under pressure to add its name to the list.
In February, officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, and the Defense Intelligence Agency told a U.S. Senate committee that smartphones produced by Huawei and Chinese company ZTE posed a security threat. And in May, the Pentagon ordered stores on U.S. military bases to stop selling smartphones made by those two companies out of concern that the Chinese government could be using their technology to spy.
And of course, the company’s troubles were compounded this week when Meng Wanzhou—its chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei—was detained by Canadian authorities. She is facing extradition to the U.S. Details of the charges against Meng are unclear, but speculation is running rampant. Huawei has reportedly been accused of violating sanctions against both Iran and North Korea.
For its part, Huawei has claimed its only tie to the Chinese government is paying its taxes, although its founder was a former engineer in the country’s army and joined the Communist Party in 1978. We reached out to Huawei for further comment and will update if we hear back.