Security

Get out of Huawei, it's an avalanche of news from everyone's favourite Chinese bogeyman

We read this week's Huawei happenings and filleted it so you don't have to

By Gareth Corfield

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Roundup Huawei has been kicked by a US national emergency proclamation hitting "foreign" gear, spent some cash in France, claimed it's worth billions to Britain and was described as "a potential security risk" by a former head of MI6. And that's just the last five days.

With all the news-related activity around Huawei, some of which is even actual news, we've decided to stop chronicling each minute twist and turn around the Chinese telco kitmaker and its security woes as they happen, and instead slice and dice them for your delight and delectation.

So far this week we have had…

Machine learning database thingy that isn't new

An Arm-compatible database, predictably enough including the marketing buzzword of machine learning, was squeezed out of Huawei on Monday. We had a look at GaussDB and concluded that not only is the product not new (it forms part of Huawei's Openstack distro, Fusionstack) but the only novel thing in this latest edition is its claimed integration of machine learning.

Nonetheless, any well-funded company launching a database product is likely to make Oracle's Larry Ellison stop bathing in banknotes for five minutes and start looking at the competition.

Huawei 'worth £1.7bn' to UK economy

Huawei paid consulting outfit Oxford Economics to write a report saying the company's British activities are worth £1.7bn to the UK GDP. We are breathlessly informed that 26,000 jobs, £470m in taxes, the salaries of 16,900 nurses, the smile on Mary Poppins' face and the odds of snow on Christmas Day all emanate from Huawei in Britain, directly and indirectly.

Apparently this spending spree includes 35 higher education institutions around the UK, which will probably come as a surprise to Oxford University, which stopped accepting the Chinese company's cash in January.

Trump bans Huawei from America and US M&A

US prez Donald Trump (for it is he) declared an American national emergency in his drive to boot Huawei, and China more generally, out of US markets.

The missive, which could ultimately become a blanket ban, will "prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons", according to a White House statement. Placing Huawei on the US's entity list also bans it from acquiring American companies without politicians' approval, which both thwarts IP transfer to China and allows Trump and pals the ability to directly disrupt Huawei's business growth plans.

Huawei hit back by promising to "fight to the end" of the ongoing trade war.

Huawei threatens security, says man whose job was to threaten others' security

Sir Richard Dearlove, one-time head of spy-on-foreigners agency MI6, wrote, in his foreword to a Henry Jackson Society paper (PDF) criticising Huawei, that "if Australia can blackball Huawei as its 5G provider the UK can certainly do so the same without undue concern about the consequences".

This comes not long after Britain's National Security Council, a secretive body made up of senior civil servants and cabinet ministers, voted to keep the status quo on Huawei and use its equipment in non-core settings within 5G. Once leaked to world+dog, the news of the decision cost defence secretary Gavin Williamson his government job on the grounds he was the culprit, though nobody from the British establishment denied that the news was true.

The retired spy chief isn't alone; Sky News' Tom Cheshire, once its tech correspondent and now the telly network's Man in Beijing, made much the same observation earlier this week. He drew a compelling parallel between British companies building telegraph networks all over the world in the late 19th century and Huawei today, arguing that while neither commercial enterprise was set up as an arm of their nation's government, circumstances pushed them into doing the home country spies' bidding for them.

Doubtless there'll be more to come in the Huawei kerfuffle, and El Reg will dish up another pile of it next week if this pace continues. ®

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