WASHINGTON—The majority of the equipment at the heart of 5G networks come from just a small number of global suppliers, with the largest being Chinese company Huawei. Ajit Pai, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said this was a “major concern” for the United States that could open the door to surveillance, espionage, and other dangers.
U.S. officials have long conveyed concerns of national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment providers, and of hidden “backdoors” to networks in routers or other equipment that could allow foreign powers to inject malware or steal private U.S. data, Pai said on Nov. 5 at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank.
Pai dedicated a portion of his remarks to warning about the threat posed by Huawei and its links to China’s communist regime. He said that although Huawei positioned itself as a private company, it has “significant ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military, noting that under the law in China, all companies must comply with requests from the country’s intelligence services.
“These requests cannot be disclosed to any third parties, such as Huawei’s customers in China or abroad,” Pai said. “That means China could compel Huawei to spy on foreign individuals and businesses and prevent Huawei from disclosing such surveillance requests.”
“You don’t have to look hard to find evidence that the Chinese government is willing and able to use its growing influence over global commerce to advance its own interests.”