Intelligence: Paranoid Suspicions

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September 9, 2009: Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer Huawei is once more being accused of acting as an economic and military espionage agent for the Chinese military. Huawei was founded 21 years ago by a former Chinese army officer (Zhengfei Ren) who was forced out of the military during a shrinking (by half a million troops) of the armed forces in the early 1980s. Ren joined the Communist Party 1978, after years of trying (his father had worked for the nationalists).

Ren built Huawei into a $23 billion (annual sales) company. Along the way Huawei has been dogged by frequent accusations of stealing technology, and carrying out espionage for the Chinese military. The most recent accusations come in Australia, where former Huawei employees made several accusations, but nothing they could back up with evidence.

Huawei spends a lot of money on research, and is one of the largest producer of patentable technology on the planet. With that, there are bound to be some lawsuits. But for a company its size, Huawei has had relatively little trouble. So either Huawei is a master at corporate and military espionage (they have a reputation for strict internal controls and aggressive competitive intelligence work), or most of the accusations are more paranoia than plausible. However, it's a fact that all Chinese companies, especially the large tech outfits, are expected to cooperate with Chinese intelligence agencies. That's not paranoia.

 


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