by Thaddeus G. McCotter
President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order in a prescient move to defend America’s national security against Chinese cyber espionage. Invoking his powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president gave the Commerce Department 150 days to devise methods of implementing new rules for American companies that wish to trade with “foreign adversaries” designated as an “unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security.
While not specifically named in the president’s order, the Communist Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei, and some 70 affiliates are expected to be on the Commerce Department’s risk list.
The Trump Administration earlier precluded the U.S. government and its contractors from using Huawei products, for a host of reasons. The Justice Department has issued criminal charges against a top Huawei executive, the company, and several of its many subsidiaries for stealing trade secrets, as well as misleading banks in order to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran. The government further alleges that Huawei stole trade secrets from U.S. companies and competitors. Overall, Huawei is widely believed to engage economic espionage.
No wonder that in 2012, the House Intelligence Committee reported that Huawei and ZTE (China’s second-largest telecommunications company) facilitate the regime’s cyberespionage and should be banned from partnering and trading with American companies.
Given this congressional history, in a rare instance of bipartisanship in Washington, Democrats such as U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) have hailed the president’s executive order as “a needed step,” due to the law in Communist China that mandates such companies must “act as an agent of the state.”
Critically, this cyber espionage threat stems from the potential of “backdoor” technologies being implanted in Huawei products and, hence, being used as a tool of intelligence gathering and cyberware by the Chinese; and it has spurred the United States to urge its allies to not partner with Huawei in developing their 5G infrastructures.
Huawei Fights Back
In light of President Trump’s executive order, Huawei continues to maintain its innocence of all allegations. The company has even gone to U.S. federal court to overturn the administration’s previous ban on the federal government and its contractors dealing with the company.
In particular, Huawei strenuously objects to the claim that their product has been found to have such a “backdoor” to aid Beijing’s cyber espionage in America or anywhere else. Further, the company is incensed CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on the outstanding U.S. warrant, and is currently fighting extradition. Indeed, Huawei is almost as incensed as the Communist Chinese government that has detained two Canadians (though, of course, the Beijing regime swears the two matters are unrelated).
Moreover, Huawei contends President Trump’s executive order hinders the development of “next-generation” technologies; “will not make the U.S. more secure or stronger”; and, will result in “inferior yet more expensive alternatives” that will hurt companies and customers and retard the implementation of 5G infrastructure in rural America.
Huawei does have a point here, as there will be an impact on the American economy—Huawei spends about $11 billion on purchases from numerous American companies. Yet the economic damage to Huawei will be greater, because in a poignant irony the Communist Chinese telecommunications juggernaut cannot potentially bestride and “backdoor” the world’s 5G infrastructure without U.S. technologies. No wonder, Huawei soothingly assures Washington, “We are ready and willing to engage with the U.S. government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security.”
Fortunately, the Trump Administration and the increasing bipartisan congressional consensus are unassuaged, for they understand such assurances are meaningless the minute the Beijing regime instructs Huawei otherwise—if it hasn’t already.
A cursory understanding of Communist ideology reveals that, no matter what “market reforms” are implemented, the party owns the means of production in a command and control economy. Should the Beijing regime decide to nationalize Huawei, the company would have no recourse but to submit.
Hard to imagine, then, Huawei refusing to comply with a directive to engage in cyber espionage at the insistence of a Communist regime that ignores international laws, treaties, and norms unless, of course, they are willfully and deliberately violating them.
Honestly, what kind of fools would swallow such risible assurances?
As it has in the instance of sanctioning the barbarous Iranian regime, Europe, however, resolutely vows to not “backing down” to the United States’ importuning to ban Huawei from their 5G infrastructure; and, as is its wont, promises to continue routinely bending over backwards for China, its second-largest trading partner. (Guess who is Europe’s largest trading partner?) Citing their fear of escalating the U.S.-China trade war and their own economic interests, the British, German, and French governments are poised to use Huawei.
As for potential risks to their own nations’ security interests, as well as those of their American ally?
Speaking at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, and knowing his audience, Vincent Pang, Huawei’s head of Western European business, noted that “in past 30 years, Huawei hasn’t had any cyber security issues”; and, in an intriguing, ironic echo of the “Open Door Policy,” said “closed doors doesn’t make it better for anybody.”
Neither do “backdoors” on telecommunications products to cyber spy on free peoples at the fiat of a nuclear-armed Communist dictatorship.
Such a Manichean Cold War-era mindset is pooh-poohed by the nuanced European diplomats and policymakers whose sophisticated 20th-century résumés include two world wars. Cue French President Emmanuel Macron:
Our perspective is not to block Huawei or any company . . . France and Europe are pragmatic and realistic. We do believe in cooperation and multilateralism. At the same time, we are extremely careful about access to good technology and to preserve our national security and all the safety rules . . . I think launching a trade or tech war vis-a-vis any country is not appropriate. First, it’s not best way to defend national security, second it’s not best way to defend the ecosystem.
First, I have no idea why he’s dragged the ecosystem into this argument. Communist China is one of the most polluted countries on earth. But, OK.
Second, as history teeters on the abyss of repeating itself, if European governments want to solely concern themselves with “practical” economic concerns, they need to recall the predatory economic policies of the Beijing regime that have never ceased and are only intensifying.
And, yes, again realize that an imperiled nation is an impoverished nation—as is a continent. No person can be secure or prosperous if Communist China has a backdoor to the communications of free nations.
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The Hon. Thaddeus McCotter is the former chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, current itinerant guitarist, American Greatness contributor, and Monday co-host of the “John Batchelor Show.”