The Washington Post’s article revealing that Chinese telecom behemoth Huawei helped build a mobile network in North Korea is getting attention because of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and recent American blacklisting of Huawei in the U.S.
In fact, the report was published on the same day White House officials met with tech companies including Google, Qualcomm and Intel, which are all suppliers to Huawei. The revelations about in the Post’s story could bolster the case for those in the White House who oppose any further relaxation of the Huawei ban.
But the real story could be what the Huawei-North Korea connection might mean in other countries that have not banned Huawei, such as Canada, where activists may be able to put more pressure on politicians to not do business with Huawei.
The broader context is this: Huawei has become a dominant telecom equipment maker, and national security officials in the U.S. and elsewhere fear that its equipment gives the Chinese military a back door into communications networks around the world.
Huawei has denied this. (Edward Snowden leaks previously showed how the U.S. National Security Agency a decade ago hacked into Huawei servers to spy on the company, in part to try to establish Huawei ties to the Chinese government.)
Most of all, the rise of Huawei and another American-blacklisted Chinese telecom equipment maker, ZTE, underscores the decline in the U.S. ability to produce its own telecom equipment.