Huawei defends security record as annual sales top $100B

Photo: AP

Chinese tech giant Huawei’s deputy chairman defended its commitment to security Friday after a stinging British government report added to Western pressure on the company by accusing it of failing to repair dangerous flaws in its telecom technology.

Guo Ping’s comments came as Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global maker of network equipment for phone and internet companies, announced last year’s sales surpassed $100 billion despite U.S. pressure on American allies to shun it as a security threat.

Accusations that Huawei, China’s first global tech brand, might facilitate Beijing’s spying threaten to hamper its access to global carriers that are preparing to invest billions of dollars in next-generation technology.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Center added criticism Thursday on a different front, accusing Huawei of “poor software engineering.”

The agency said in a report British researchers saw no sign that was due to Chinese government interference, but it said Huawei had not repaired flaws that might make its systems vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Guo didn’t respond directly to the British report’s criticisms but said Huawei will work with regulators to improve security.

He noted the company has promised to invest $2 billion over five years to improve its software engineering and expressed confidence British regulators will “increase their confidence” in Huawei over time.

“We prioritize cybersecurity and privacy protection even above our commercial targets,” Guo said at a news conference. He said the British report showed Huawei products had no “backdoors” to permit eavesdropping.

Huawei is, along with Sweden’s LM Ericsson and Nokia Corp. of Finland, a global leader in developing fifth-generation, or 5G, telecoms.

The technology is intended to vastly expand mobile networks to support self-driving cars, medical devices and factory equipment, but that makes it more politically sensitive.

Huawei passed Apple last year as the No. 2 global smartphone brand behind Samsung and earlier passed Ericsson as the No. 1 network gear seller.

Australia, Japan and Taiwan have imposed curbs on use of Huawei technology, but Germany, France and other governments are balking at U.S. demands to exclude it from 5G networks.

Carriers complain that would reduce competition, raise prices and delay the rollout of 5G service.

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