US intelligence chiefs continue to brief against Chinese companies

The heads of six US intelligence agencies have reportedly told a Senate committee that even private citizens shouldn’t touch Chinese gear with a barge pole.

All the usual suspects, including the CIA, FBI and NSA (how many security agencies does the US have?), turned up for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, according to a CNBC report. The hearing seems to have been convened to provide a general update on all the external threats the US should be worried about, such as Russian mucking about with politics and whatever crazy stuff North Korea is up to these days.

Apparently this ‘Worldwide Threats’ gathering is an annual thing that, given the degree of publicity it gets, is apparently designed to demonstrate how on top of the security situation the US state is. Russia and North Korea may have got top billing, but it looks like China comes third on the list of things that keep US spooks awake at night.

All six uber-spooks expressed distrust of Huawei and ZTE on the basis of suspected ties to the Chinese state which, to be fair, is generally considered to be pretty proactive on the spying front. When prompted to elaborate they said they wouldn’t even recommend private citizens use products made by Chinese companies.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” said FBI Director Chris Wray. “That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

Well that certainly does sound like something worth avoiding. Huawei continues to point out that 170 other countries don’t seem to have a problem with it and to insist that it poses no greater security risk than any other ICT vendor. But the current climate in the Trump administration is overtly hostile to China as an economic and political threat, so it looks like Huawei and its compatriots should give up on doing business in the US for the foreseeable future.

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