back to article Uncle Sam to its friends around the world: You can buy technology the easy way, or the Huawei

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says his department may punish countries that purchase hardware from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Speaking at a press conference in Budapest, Hungary, on Monday, Pompeo suggested that companies who do business with Huawei could be stopped from working with US agencies or companies out of …

  1. veti Silver badge

    Does that mean...

    ... if my company uses lots of Huawei kit, the NSA will avoid rooting us?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does that mean...

      Nah, probably use it as an excuse to hack you.

    2. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Does that mean...

      ...NSA will avoid rooting us?

      Nah, they'll just root you in the AU/NZ sense.

    3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Does that mean...

      You'll go broke from the lack of U.S. business and maybe some other countries, but the good news is that the NSA won't be able to root you--so no worries!!

      1. Chronos Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Does that mean...

        You'll go broke from the lack of U.S. business

        Pray tell, what will the lack of exports to those "rogue states" do to your trade deficit?

        They're obviously issuing those funny 20th Century atlases again which show the North American continent covering 70% of the planet's land-mass and Uncle Sam standing on a mountain (if you can find one that hasn't been strip-mined) being pleasured by Lady Liberty while screaming "Murica, fuckin' A!" You do realise that Canada is bigger than the contiguous 48 combined?

        Not really sure how valuable US business is right now, given Arsenoise's love for tariffs, trade barriers and MAGA. It's probably on a par with our own, given Brexit and the uncertainty of becoming a trivial little island with politicians who could start an argument alone in a country 'phone box at 4AM and very little manufacturing industry to speak of.

        Still, we have Silicon Roundabout and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the first visible proof that cadavers can be reanimated. What more could we possibly want? [sarcasm]

        Posturing and willy-waving, all of it.

        1. JP_Veeam

          Don't sell the UK short, yours is the 5th largest economy

          I agree it is all hand-waving, but if the Huawei boxes stop getting sold around the world due to this hand-waving then EMEA or US firms will get that business. And that will mean billions to one of them. As for Canada, they have a large land mass, but depend on the US for protection and roughly 80% of their people live within 100 miles f the US border.

          All these policy changes are the generous Uncle Sam finally waking up to find out lots of other countries are taking our money and giving nothing back.

          I hope a some point we pull our troops out of Germany, as it has not been on the Russian front for over 60 years.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Does that mean...

        You'd be surprised how many businesses there are out here that have absolutely no interest whatsoever in selling to the US.

    4. sprograms

      Re: Does that mean...

      No. Certainly not. Rooting you has nothing to do with sharing sensitive information with you. It's obviously the other way around....

  2. Ole Juul Silver badge

    very odd

    Interesting how the US really doesn't believe in the idea of sovereignty.

    1. joed

      Re: very odd

      The idea of sovereignty had been put to rest long time ago, but until recently we've maintained pretenses with regard to the idea of free market. I can only bet that OECD will support redefined terms.

  3. Fungus Bob Silver badge

    "it also makes it more difficult for America to be present"

    He says that like it's a Bad Thing...

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: "it also makes it more difficult for America to be present"

      No kidding. There's quite a few European space companies where the main benefit is "no USA inside" so that their equipment is not subject to ITAR.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: "it also makes it more difficult for America to be present"

      What he means is, because the hardware wasn't sent from a US company, they have no chance to interdict it and add their own "presence" to the kit before it is delivered, so they can't be "present" on it.

  4. JLV Silver badge

    Good thing the Soviets were always shit at hardware and civilian tech, otherwise that would have been interesting.

    This Huawei thing is weird in a way. Why all the fuss about one company if it’s the country you’re worried about? Do they want to limit spying? Limit Chinese encroachment on higher value tech? Send a message to Xi to start normalizing/rule-of-law-ing the way his country approaches IP? Play make-a-deal with bargaining chips? Get another casino license? Start a policy of China containment (because it could be perceived thst way)?

    I don’t necessarily disagree that putting China on notice to somewhat behave is needed. But I’d feel a lot better if a more stable, huuugely more smart (genius is shooting way too high here), more consensus building POTUS was in charge. Obama’s pivot to the Pacific was somewhat clearer in intent, for example and even Dubya’d probably be an improvement over Trumpo in running international relations (imagine Trump in charge on 9/11, getting his cues from Ann Coulter and Fox n Friends).

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Its economic

      > Limit Chinese encroachment on higher value tech?

      The problem with Huawei is that its started to outstrip US companies. IP theft is a red herring since serious IP is patent pooled as part of the standards process. The root cause of the current problem is that there's no US player that has the same stranglehold on 5G technologies that they had on 4G -- we're not only on an equal footing now but also we're nowhere near as well set up to win the technological race. (That's what you get for years of outsourcing...) Politicians are a very gullible lot so I daresay they truly believe all this spying horsecrap, its the industry lobbyists that are fuelling the fire (because -- outsourcing again -- we're now very big on PR and marketing but seem to have lost the thread with engineering).

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Its economic

        The root cause of the current problem is that there's no US player that has the same stranglehold on 5G technologies that they had on 4G -- we're not only on an equal footing now but also we're nowhere near as well set up to win the technological race. ..... martinusher

        I assume you meant to say, martinusher, ..... The root cause of the current problem is that there's no US player that has the same stranglehold on 5G technologies that they had on 4G -- we're not only not on an equal footing now but also we're nowhere near as well set up to win the technological race.

        It certainly more reflective of the situation and makes better sense.

        Such typos though are engaging :-)

        1. HmmmYes Silver badge

          Re: Its economic

          No US compnay had much i nthe wya of market presense in 3g, 4g. Both are dominated by European cos.

        2. Bruno de Florence

          Re: Its economic

          Same with European players re G5.

          Also, remember that in current communist China, The Party=The Government. and Huawey could not have reached its current dominance without full approval & support from The Party. Therefore the boss of Huawey is part of The Party's inner circle & all its various departments. It's that closeness which makes the U.S. jittery. Who knows what all those motherboards might contain!!!

          1. oiseau Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Its economic

            Who knows what all those motherboards might contain ...

            Hmmm ...

            Maybe the likes of Intel Management Engine?

            You know ...

            That independent stealth subsystem that Intel secretly put into millions of motherboards since the late 2000's, the one which cannot be reliably disabled, can run with admin rights even with the rig switched off and no OS installed, without no one knowing about it?

            Tough choice.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Its economic

            "Who knows what all those motherboards might contain!"

            Such as magical ICs that can't be photographed but can reprogram the entire motherboard?

  5. Yes Me Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Let's not beat around the bush

    This is unfair competition raised to the level of governmental bullying -- wait, no, it's actual economic warfare. We all know the "security" arguments are completely bogus, and the allegations of intellectual property theft are no worse than what US companies are regularly alleged to do, and the sanctions-evasion allegations are unproven and unlikely to be proven. What's really going on is that Cisco and friends have spent enough lobbying dollars in Washington DC to get a number of rabid right-wingers up in arms.

    1. Dizmoduck

      Re: Let's not beat around the bush

      In my ignorance I thought it was only because of the five eyes can't get their trunk down in the boxes

    2. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @Yes Me Re: Let's not beat around the bush

      Indeed. Is it not ironic that the most rabid defenders of red in tooth and claw capitalism are some of the most unscrupulous bad losers when they are being outcompeted.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: @Yes Me Let's not beat around the bush

        It's not ironic, really -- that's just how naked capitalism is. Remember "capitalism" is a different notion than the "free market". The end goal of all hardcore capitalists is monopoly, with them as the monopolists.

      2. sprograms

        Re: @Yes Me Let's not beat around the bush

        If you consider the rate at which Chinese nationals and mainland hacking groups have been breaking into US tech vendor networks and stealing specs, drawings, etc.....then the China bit is no big deal. In my book it's a huge deal. But no matter: Soon enough China will be buying up UK tech and manufacturing companies as fast as they've been buying up the Germans...which Germans have only lately become sufficiently rueful as to what they've allowed, especially in auto-factory robotics. UK parts supplier to Volvo Cars or Daimler Benz? You're now either a supplier to a Chinese company on the mainland, or you're supplying a 27% Chinese CP owned company on its way to 51%

  6. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Data theft on this scale is Huawei robbery!

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    WTF?

    Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

    WTF point of "sovereignty" is FFS ....

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

      You have to realise that Brexit is about none of the things that made it to the side of buses. It's essentially about the UK aligning itself with a clique of radical free-market capitalists in the US for the mutual benefit of radical free-market capitalists there and in the UK. Anything said to the punters is simply bait for the trap, most of which is being put out by the useful idiots who will find themselves being held responsible for what ensues.

      1. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

        "It's essentially about the UK aligning itself with a clique of radical free-market capitalists in the US for the mutual benefit of radical free-market capitalists there and in the UK"

        ROFL.

        Also sovereignty is the right of the people to chose their own destiny. It isn't parliament's, it isn't the Crown's, it's the people's.

        Also I'd like to see the US try. GCHQ has Huawei gear's source code, has vetted it, is making them produce reproducible binaries. It's pretty clear the whole deal (minus the Iranian regime stuff) is nothing more than Operation Protect Cisco. Why protect Cisco other than obvious economic reasons? Because it's fairly clear the NSA still have operations to backdoor Cisco gear. Friends don't let friends buy Cisco.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

          "Also sovereignty is the right of the people to chose their own destiny."

          That must be a comforting thought. Especially if you think most of the planet is still painted pink. In fact, the right of the people is only to choose their own destiny from what can actually be achieved. Politics is the art of the possible but we seem to have a bunch of politicians who haven't heard that, don't believe it or have succumbed to aspirational crap such as "You can be whatever you want to be".

          1. Chronos Silver badge

            Re: Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

            succumbed to aspirational crap such as "You can be whatever you want to be".

            My answer to that particular platitude is usually along the lines of "I can also surely be many things I don't particularly want to be such as dead, skint or stuck in a room with some bellend who actually believes that, scenarios which are much more likely than being snu-snu'd senseless by Keira Knightley and Margot Robbie on my own tropical island."

            Sometimes this realism is harsh...

          2. streaky Silver badge

            Re: Be curious, if the UK has to toe the line ...

            "Politics is the art of the possible"

            That's certainly true, the issue these days tends to not be we can't do x or y because it isn't possible so much as we're not even going to try because it sounds a tiny little bit difficult.

            "being snu-snu'd senseless by Keira Knightley and Margot Robbie on my own tropical island"

            :x

  8. revenant Bronze badge

    Friends like these?

    They could say 'If you involve Huawei, then we can't be involved', or they could say ''If you involve Huawei then we will punish you'.

    The former are the words of a concerned friend, but the latter are the words of a bully.

    I'm sure there are better and more diplomatic ways of countering rising Chinese dominance than that.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Friends like these?

      Simpler still; " If you are a friend of my enemy then you are my enemy too."

      The US has over 700 foreign bases worlwide ' to protect Americans interests' they rarely say anything about the host country's interests because being under some degree of occupation, the host country no longer has conflicting interests.

  9. big_D Silver badge

    Proof this time?

    "We have seen this all around the world, it also makes it more difficult for America to be present," Pompeo was quoted by Reuters as saying.

    That must mean that he could actually present some solid proof this time, as opposed to empty rhetoric?

    1. uncle sjohie

      Re: Proof this time?

      Maybe some satellite photo's in, lets say, a UN meeting? Like Powell did with the Iraqi WMD's?

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "out of security concerns"

    It's all well and good to cite security concerns, but if you're up to government-level declarations of punishment, it would be nice to see some proof that those concerns are valid.

    And, for the moment, all we have is bluster and rhetoric, which is a bit thin to base state-level menaces on.

    But hey, it's the Trump era. Who needs reason ?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "out of security concerns"

      They never needed Trump before in order to buster and bully anybody.

      What makes me laugh is how many Americans refer back to the evil actions of the British Empire without admitting they have taken over the reins and extended them.

      1. dogcatcher

        Re: "out of security concerns"

        "What makes me laugh is how many Americans refer back to the evil actions of the British Empire without admitting they have taken over the reins and extended them."

        I've never actually forgiven them for kicking out my royalist ancestors from Boston when they were just a bunch of terrorists seeking to overthrow their lawful government.

        1. Chronos Silver badge

          Re: "out of security concerns"

          You mean like handing Poland over to the Soviets in 1945 despite our treaty obligations to them being the reason we entered into the war in the first place and their underrated help in surviving the Battle of Britain, a decision in which both so-called civilised nations were complicit? It's one thing to exercise the will of the people, it's quite another to ignore that will and sell them down the river. Sovereignty? Only when it suits us.

          We're barely down from the sodding trees...

          1. sprograms

            Re: "out of security concerns"

            Helicopters are definitely the new trees.

        2. sprograms

          Re: "out of security concerns"

          And, imagine this: What if the Indian subcontinent tried the same thing as those damned Yanks? Terrifying? No right whatever to throw off the benevolent yoke of Britannia. Next it'll be the Irish, eh?

          The UK has a choice: build your own connections to the world, seeking to create a national specialty as the Swiss have, or as Ireland and Luxembourg have (at least for the moment....).

          If you don't think the Chinese CP is waging full-on economic war against the West, you haven't been paying attention.

          1. Chronos Silver badge

            Re: "out of security concerns"

            The UK has a choice: [...] seeking to create a national specialty

            We have one. I don't think bloody-mindedness sells very well, though.

            In a way, China's ascendency is again a monster of our own creation. Oh, those manufacturing jobs were just too dull and low paid to be economically viable for us so we just did the interesting design bits and sent them over there to be made for tuppence ha'penny. Then the design got dull so we just took Shenzhen generics and rebadged them. All of a sudden we're wondering why China is top dog for making stuff. Well, quelle surprise.

            It didn't need an economic war. All China had to do was, um, Keep Calm and Carry On™.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "out of security concerns"

      But hey, it's the Trump era. Who needs reason ?

      Yep, just McCarthyism all over again. Reds under the antennae.

  11. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Holmes

    Translation

    Thou Shalt Not roll out 5G infrastructure better and quicker than the US.

    and (only slightly) speculatively:

    Thou Shalt Not roll out 5G infrastructure over which NSA&friends have no say.

    1. sprograms

      Re: Translation

      I should think the winners will be Erikson and Seimens, not a US company.

      Perhaps you think the prospect of the UK as a part of "one ring, one road" enchanting? You won't really have much time to change your mind. Germany is already getting stuck to it, allowed the Chinese to buy two too many Germany technology-leading firms.

  12. _LC_
    Megaphone

    Truth in labeling

    It's da mob.

  13. alain williams Silver badge

    Open Source

    Huawei should point two fingers at the govt of the USA by open sourcing its firmware and then ask the USA to point to the Chinese gov't bugs.

    Huawei should document how to compile & install the firmware - then challenge Cisco, etc, to do the same.

    Huawei makes its money by selling hardware so this should not be a huge problem. Yes: some of its competitors may find interesting things to copy; the NSA will produce its own firmware that creates a NSA back door; others might even improve/debug the firmware - making it better.

    The USA gov't will then have to invent some other excuse for protectionism.

    Are there Chinese gov't back-doors ? Quite possibly. But if the bugged Huawei gear is not being sold any bugs are pointless, so they might as well support clean firmware and get the economic benefit.

    In fact all security sensitive software should be Open Source, let's start with mobile 'phones and desktop operating systems.

    1. The Original Steve

      Re: Open Source

      Patents.

      What do Huawei do about the patents they licence and include in their gear? Sadly it's not quite as simple as just making their code "open source", as a good chunk of it will be covered by other peoples patents and there will still be a little bit of Huawei's own technical effort and intellectual property included. Why should Huawei have to give away their privately paid for code?

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Open Source

        Patents are not a problem as anything with a patent as all the IP should have been disclosed as part of the patenting process.

        You do have a point about copyright of other people's code that they might be using, in theory it could be given under a license that restricts its use to Huawei products, in practice people will use it however they wish.

        Why should Huawei have to give away their privately paid for code?

        Because it might get them a lot more sales. Anyway: many organisations give away code Open Source and do very well.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Open Source

        Two major computer security companies I've worked for have had nations as customers. In both companies, Russia and the US each required examination of our source code as a condition to winning the contracts. This isn't an unusual requirement.

    2. Guus Leeuw

      Re: Open Source

      Dear Mr Williams,

      why should Huawei do that?

      In reality, the Chinese government should put duty so high on anything American that the US companies cannot even begin to actually import stuff into China. The next step is for China to take a case in front of the WTO against the US for blackmailing and creating artificial monopolies.

      This is all Uncle Sam telling the world about Weapons of Mass Destruction. All over again. Back then, it was a monkey with the lowest IQ any President had so far, and now it is another monkey that thinks that the monkey that shouts loudest, wins. But backing up their claims of wrongdoing with actual evidence? Guilty until proven innocent, eh???

      The US of A can fock right off, as far as I am concerned with all that stupid crap they are pulling since the early 1970s...

      Regards,

      Guus

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (...) hypocrites

    at the same time waxing about obeying the rule o law (i..e our law), making it fair for everyone (i.e. everyone on our side), even playing field (well, not when we're fucking losing to the chinks, nosir!).

    But hey, huwai, it's all about "terrorism and money laundering", because IRAN, and we all know they're TERRORISTS (whatever happened to Iraq and Afghanistan and Kadafiland?), and they finance TERRORISTS. Which they certainly do, while the US finance "freedom fighters". Until those freedom fighters start biting our ankle, at which point they become TERRORISTS.

    Now, pay me my transfer rouble dole, gospodin presidyent, cause I'm surely your lapdog for questioning the motives of your "American partners"...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: (...) hypocrites

      making it fair for everyone (i.e. everyone on our side us)

      FTFY

  15. MudFever

    Uncle Spam

    They're only doing this so that we are forced in to using American tat and enable them to spy on us to expand their online pharma presence.

  16. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Off to buy shares in erricson and nokia

    with Huawei out of the game Cisco wont benefit much, but the scandies will

  17. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Fantastic, the EU should buy all Huawei kit and then we don't have to share data and trump can butt smack his 3-letter agencies for connecting US systems when hacking !

  18. Cliff Thorburn

    (...) (... ...)

    Regardless of who and what, what, where and why, its simply all part of the great game.

    Everyone, everywhere, anyhow, and if you think mass surveillance is the issue, try not even being able to go to the local shop without the melodrama of Will Smith esque Enemy of the State (when it suits), hero when it don’t type mind f**k trip of a lifetime antics.

    Sheesh, if this is the future, and the future is now, then get prepared to either dine at Pizza Hut (Taco Bell if you’re watching the US variant), and get fined every time you speak a profanity, or eat Rat Burgers and live off the radar.

    I for one welcome our edible rodent delicacies and if the Daily Bog Roll is correct, we will be innundated with plenty to chew on after Brexit regardless!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paranoi

    Bloody Yanks trying to impose their own rules on everybody else by blackmail - and, yes, I DO have a Huawei phone and jolly good value it is, too......so there!

  20. JohnFen Silver badge

    What I find amazing

    As an American, what I find amazing about the US government's campaign against Huawei is that they have yet to offer any real justification for it. Yes, they've made general accusations, but where are the specifics? Where is the evidence? Are they really thinking that "trust us" is an argument that works anymore?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: What I find amazing

      Well, Trump tells his followers to believe him and they do, so it does seem to be working.

      1. _LC_

        Re: What I find amazing

        So the media is telling us.

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