10/08/2012, 00.00
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Huawei and ZTE "a threat to United States security"

The two big telecommunications companies are suspected of being spying tools for the Beijing government and Chinese army. The companies deny the charges. May influence presidential election campaign.

Washington (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE, among the most important in the world, are threatening the security of the United States and therefore must be kept out of the U.S. market. This is the conclusion reached by a U.S. Congress study group that highlights that the two companies are suspected of having strong links with the Chinese government and army.
The group conducted a 11 month survey for Congress and its conclusions will be published today, but were deferred to the media.
Huawei is the second largest in the world by sales volume and importance in the field of telecommunications and the Internet. Since last year, it has invaded the U.S. market with new providers, call centers, phones. The company was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former member of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). ZTE is the fifth largest company in the world. Both have often been accused of collusion with the Beijing government and the army.

The document that will be published today states that Huawei and ZTE have not provided information outlining the current links between the two companies and the government, increasing the suspicion that they provide Beijing and PLA sensitive information. The study shows that the telecommunications market is linked to many important aspects of society such as power plants, banks, financial institutions, gas, oil and water systems, railways and ports infrastructure.

The report cites former Huawei employees, who accuse it of corruption, breach of copyright and discrimination.
The management of both companies have denied any links to the Chinese government several times or any use of their infrastructure for espionage claiming it would be market suicide.

By itself, the Huawei and ZTE sales volume in the U.S. is not very high when compared to other foreign companies, especially European. But the report says that they - linked to China - present the greatest risks to the security of the nation.

This new economic conflict comes right in the middle of the U.S. presidential election campaign. Both Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney have promised to counter China in its monetary policy and support for its industries in order to save jobs in the United States. Days ago Obama blocked the investment of a Chinese company in the field of wind energy, again in the name of "national security."

 This morning, at the opening of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the shares of ZTE fell by 3.4%.


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