The Chinese network equipment and mobile phone manufacturer Huawei knows that trust is important in international competition. Now Huawei goes on the offensive to fight for a better reputation.

Ren Zhengfei has recognized the signs of the times: “Whether our customers want to buy our products or even dare them depends on whether or not they trust them,” the boss and founder of Huawei now let his staff know in an email , “It is therefore important to gain the acceptance and trust of governments in the world.”

The reliability offensive of the Chinese also includes that on Tuesday (22.01.2019) German journalists were allowed to visit the cyber security laboratory of Huawei in Dongguan in southern China. The message of this PR campaign was obvious: we really care about security and even look over our shoulders!

Did the words of Huawei’s new Germany boss Dennis Zuo also build confidence? “Huawei products are just like a brick,” he told German journalists at the press conference. “It is built to a certain standard, and it can not be said that the safety of the house depends on this brick.”

Global distrust

The group from Shengzen still has a lot of work to do, because it will not win any confidence with its patchy voice pictures like these. Internationally, the Chinese have a miserable reputation: they are suspected of maintaining very close contacts with their own government and intelligence services, and are a tool of espionage and industrial espionage.

The US has therefore already largely excluded Huawei from its network market . Of course, this could also be due to the protectionist economic policy and the “America first” policy of incumbent President Donald J. Trump. But public in the US is repeatedly criticized for the trustworthiness of the Chinese group – for Huawei is extremely damaging reputation.

World Economic Forum in Davos (picture-alliance / Keystone / L. Gillieron)

Also at the World Economic Forum in Davos Huawei is present: Here with Board Ken Hu.

In Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Norway, Huawei’s network market is either closed or governments are already openly thinking about such a move. In Germany, too, where the licenses for the 5G grid expansion will be awarded in the spring, the reliability of the Chinese group is now controversial – a market exclusion of Huawei is quite possible.

The EU Commission is also alarmed

Not only in Berlin, but also in Brussels is skeptical looking at the offers from Shenzen. The fear of dependence on the rulers in Beijing is great.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the EU Commission and Commissioner for Digitalisation, even believes that this danger will increase even more . Therefore, “our cyber security must be given absolute top priority,” he told DW. “We need to create a broad set of tools to face current and future cyber threats.”

Huawei Intelligent Distribution Cabinet for 5G (DW)

Huawei is one of the big players on the market alongside Cisco from the US and European suppliers Nokia and Ericsson.

The Bonn security laboratory

In Germany, the BSI – the Federal Office for Information Security – is the primary authority. In the current case of 5G standard network deployment contracting , the BSI has the ability to ensure that an outfitter does not incorporate electronic backdoors into its system, which would allow access by outside intelligence agencies, through rigorous contract terms.

As a confidence-building measure, Huawei has also opened a safety laboratory in Bonn, where the BSI and the German network operators can use the secret source code to test the safety of the products themselves. In Germany, Huawei cooperates with all three mobile operators.

Despite the fact that the security problem with Huawei has been recognized in Brussels, his solution, as Commissioner Ansip notes, remains a national matter: “It is up to the EU member states to decide whether to exclude companies from their markets if they meet their standards and security requirements. “

“A political matter”

Security laboratories in China and beyond, sonorous promises and flowery metaphors – all this will not be enough for Huawei if it wants to polish up its battered reputation. Even if, as previously the head of Germany, the current Huawei CEO Eric Xu asserted, the cyber security questions are technically solvable. Why this is not enough, he explains – possibly unintentionally – also: “Therefore we can only say that it is a political matter.”

Symbol picture Huawei (picture-alliance / NurPhoto / J. Arriens)

Millions of Germans call, text and photograph with Huawei smartphones. Mostly without thinking of espionage.

Because it is indeed a political issue and Huawei comes from a country where values ​​such as transparency and the rule of law of Western origin are unknown, a company can hardly be independent and independent. All attempts to assert the opposite must therefore go nowhere.

By no means promoting confidence

The case of Meng Wanzhou is an example of how politically the relationship with a large Chinese corporation is . The daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei and chief financial officer of the group was arrested in Canada. The US accuses her of having bypassed the Iran sanctions and demands her extradition.

Apparently in response, two Canadians were arrested in China  . Another man, who is in a Chinese jail for drug smuggling, was later sentenced to death.

Such reactions from Chinese institutions show that Huawei is not a state-independent company. One can not but believe that the fixing of Meng Wanzhou in Canada and the subsequent conversion of a prison sentence into a capital punishment for a Canadian have nothing to do with one another.

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