The US administration has doubled down on its verbal attacks against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, with a senior White House official branding it “the Mafia” and suggesting it could keep tabs on the British Parliament.
“How do we deal with that when the largest player is in essence the Mafia?” the unnamed official told CNBC. “What do you do? It means there is some kind of a role for government", he speculated.
Separately, the official voiced Washington's continuing frustration with the British government, which has recently partially allowed Huawei into its domestic market, claiming that it may be able to keep intelligence secrets safe from Huawei, but would put British people at risk of illicit surveillance.
He went still further alleging the Chinese government might be able to blackmail British MPs:
“It’s everything — it means that they’re able to collect information to blackmail members of Parliament", the official said. “The degree of fidelity — it’s like a pipeline into the private lives and thoughts of the entire British people and the people of any other country that goes this route".
A Huawei spokesman refuted the senior administration official’s “Mafia” comment, dismissing it as “just crazy":
“That’s just crazy. We’re one of the largest private enterprise run companies in the world. Our senior management is more akin to the way American executives think and act", said Glenn Schloss, vice president of corporate communications for Huawei.
“To liken Huawei to organised crime is disingenuous, and a PR stunt. We’re operating in 170 countries in the world connecting a third of the world’s people. And we operate in a free market structure".
Schloss went on to confirm receiving “some subsidies, R&D funding" from the Chinese government, “but it’s not significant", he acknowledged.
“We also receive subsidies and R&D funding from governments in Europe", the spokesman noted.
Having accused Huawei multiple times of including security vulnerabilities in its hardware that would allegedly give Beijing access to sensitive information, the White House is understood to be working on ways to rein in Huawei’s dominance on the top-notch 5G technology market.
Huawei has on a number of occasions denied allegations of having “back doors” for the Chinese government in its equipment, arguing it is totally transparent and welcoming the US to carry out independent checks.
The US is meanwhile pressing its allies to halt business ties with Huawei, which it has blacklisted and sanctioned a number of times, and develop alternative 5G networks, threatening to cut intel cooperation with them.
Alternatively, Attorney General William Barr recently suggested buying controlling stakes in telecom companies based in allied countries, namely Ericsson and Nokia.