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US congress wants a word with ZTE, Huawei

Considers laws to deal with national security threat posed by Chinese kit

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China’s dominant telco vendors ZTE Corp and Huawei will take part in US congressional hearings next month regarding investigations of alleged Chinese spy threats to US telecommunications infrastructure.

The House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has invited both ZTE chairman Hou Weigui and Huawei deputy chairman Ken Hu to testify.

ZTE’s US arm confirmed its participation in the upcoming congressional hearing but Huawei has yet to publicly comment on whether any of its executives would take part.

US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee chaired by congressman Mike Rogers, has been investigating allegations of close ties between the Chinese government and both Huawei and ZTE since November and discussing the possible introduction of legislation that would deal with any related national-security threat.

In June, the panel issued letters to senior executives at Huawei and ZTE requesting detailed disclosure about Chinese government relations and their international pricing strategies. The letters included requests for deeper detail about the companies’ history, strategy, connections to the government of China and the Chinese Communist Party, and whether they can truly act as private companies.

ZTE has confirmed its intention to play ball, sending The Reg's Hong Kong correspondent, Phil Muncaster, the following statement:

ZTE intends to participate in the upcoming congressional hearing. The company has submitted a series of detailed factual responses to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of ZTE's continuing voluntary cooperation with the Committee. ZTE is the most independent, transparent, globally focused publicly traded company in China's telecom sector. It supplies telecom equipment to 500 network operators in 140 countries. In most respects, ZTE is similar to multi-national tech companies that have emerged in Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, down under ...

Australian and New Zealand government officials have also been part of the panel’s investigations looking into how the vendors operate in foreign markets, according to Rogers.

Earlier this year in Australia, Huawei was excluded from bidding for any National Broadband Network contracts due to concerns over national security issues.

But last week Australia's opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull made a vow that a coalition government would review the government's decision to ban Huawei from the national broadband network roll out.

"We will review that decision in the light of all the advice in the event of us coming to government," he said. ®

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