Following an announcement by the UK government to investigate the involvement of telecoms giant Huawei in the construction of a British cybersecurity base, a former CIA chief has stated that the Chinese company is "an unambiguous national security threat."
Michael Hayden, a four-star general and former director of both the NSA (1999-2005) and the NSA (2006-2009), made the comments during an interview with the Australian Financial Review.
He stated that "at a minimum, Huawei would have shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with. I think that goes without saying."
Hayden made it clear that these were his opinions, rather than those of the Whitehouse, but referenced his experiences in the highest echelons of US intelligence as proof: “Two or three years ago Huawei was trying to establish a pretty significant footprint [in the US]. And they were trying to get people like me to endorse their presence."
“I reviewed Huawei’s briefing paper. But God did not make enough slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be OK. This was my considered view, based on a four-decade career as an intelligence officer.”
Huawei has denied these claims, with company spokesman Scott Sykes defending the company as "proven and trusted" in an e-mailed statement: “These tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks are sad distractions from real-world concerns related to espionage, industrial and otherwise."
Whilst US and Australian politicians have both blocked Huawei from bidding for government projects, the UK has welcomed the worlds second-largest telecoms supplier.
After a parliamentary committee issued a report critical of Huawei's presence in the UK, George Osborne responded by stating that his priority was to boost trade with Beijing and last year, David Cameron hosted Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei at Downing Street after the company pledged to create at least 700 jobs in the UK.