Blog 2

Huawei ‘promising’ not to spy…

Simply put, this is an impossible promise to keep. Huawei is inextricably linked with the Chinese state and has a track record of supporting Beijing in certain cyber projects. It is impossible for a Chinese company to operate independently of the state, even outside of China. In the somewhat unlikely event that Huawei wanted to cease its intelligence-gathering operations on behalf of the Chinese government, it would be impossible to do so. It’s common knowledge that the Chinese state has visibility into Huawei’s technology, operating systems, communications and operations globally, so visibility by the state would continue even if Huawei ceased to do it proactively on their behalf.

What triggered my interest was the promise itself. The Chinese may well think that Western governments are stupid enough to agree to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, one that China has no intention of sticking to, unfortunately, our governments have been so naive in responding to and mitigating certain espionage threats that they China would have good reason to believe this. My own opinion is that Western governments have been so pathetic in dealing with cyber threats, that the Chinese think they can make such a feeble offer and get away with it. It may seem arrogant on the part of the Chinese but they must be astonished by how weak Western governments have been on this threat. The West’s fear of losing lucrative short term economic partnerships with China has blinded Western governments to the long term economic, security, and safety threat that China poses in the long term. I believe China is playing a long game and winning.

Huawei is a key part of this as it gives the Chinese state a direct route into Western nations without having to use its own official intelligence services, despite the fact that companies like Huawei are an extension of the Chinese government intelligence apparatus. In effect, it is easy for the Chinese to spy on us because we’ve fallen for the lure of the technology they offer and given them the access that allows them to steal highly sensitive information and communications. I fear that we are nearing a point that in a time of conflict the Chinese could easily disrupt UK command and control infrastructure with the press of a button.

It would be my advice that Huawei and other Chinese vendors be banned from any part of UK Critical National Infrastructure and business critical networks. Trump makes erratic decisions on many things but on this he is spot on. At this time Theresa May is weak in trying to appease the Chinese by saying she would let them have access to ‘non-core’ parts of our 5G infrastructure. It should be a complete ban, as there is every reason to expect China to exploit trust relationships within networks and access the core if given any part of the infrastructure.

Trump declares a national emergency over IT threats (ie Huawei)

Love or hate Trump – I think he is doing the USA and the world a favour by confronting this. He has chosen many unpopular confrontations but this is one worth fighting and Theresa May should be behind him 100%. The 5 EYES governments and other ‘allies’ have been aware of the Chinese state-sponsored espionage threat for near on 20 years and no previous government, head of state or country has had the backbone to address this directly. It is a huge long term threat and the information that it is believed China has already stolen from the West in terms of R&D, Intellectual property, M&A plans, defence policy, economic plans and foreign policy information has already given China a strategic advantage globally.

Whilst China is consistently executing a 50-year strategic plan (of which cyber espionage is a massive part) the West fails to plan anywhere beyond a four or five-year re-election cycle. I’m aware that the UK government has been consistently warned by intelligence professionals and intelligence agencies of the massive threat to the national interest that countries including China pose and has, consistently ignored it fearing it may impact our economic and political missions.

So, no matter what your views on Trump are, he has recognised this as a threat of national and global significance and is tackling it head-on. He should be praised for it and I feel that other world leaders who have failed to act on the intelligence they have been given for nearly 20 years, on the China threat, should be holding their heads in shame.
This may appear to be somewhat of a soapbox statement… but it very much appears to me that, right now, fact is far stranger than my fiction!
TimLondon, May 2019