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History of Huawei illustrates historic distrust between U.S. and China

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 8, 2010; 12:33 AM

SHENZHEN, CHINA - Late last year, as AT&T was preparing to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment for its next-generation phone system, one of its senior executives received a call from the National Security Agency.

The subject was AT&T's desire to give a burgeoning Chinese telecommunications firm a contract to supply some of the equipment. The message from the NSA - the nation's electronic spying agency - was simple: If AT&T wanted to continue its lucrative business with the U.S. government, it had better select a supplier other than Huawei, said several people with knowledge of the call. In February, AT&T announced that it would buy the equipment it needed from Swedish-owned Ericsson and Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent.

The NSA called AT&T because of fears that China's intelligence agencies could insert digital trapdoors into Huawei's technology that would serve as secret listening posts in the U.S. communications network, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to maintain their relationship with the companies. Huawei, the NSA and AT&T declined to discuss the agency's intervention in the deal.

Huawei's experience illuminates the hole at the center of the United States' relations with China: the absence of strategic trust. Although President Obama has said the United States welcomes China's rise, significant parts of the U.S. government view China as a threat to national security.

The trust gap is a major obstacle for China and its companies as they seek to enter more sensitive parts of the global economy. But if the aborted AT&T deal was a setback for Huawei, the history of the company and its founder demonstrates a determination to prevail.

Keep reading here for full story.

By Cecilia Kang  | October 8, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  AT&T  
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Comments

If this is how the US government treats Chinese companies trying to do business in the US, then why should they whine and moan if the Chinese government excludes US companies from doing business in China due to possible national security matters too? Afterall, one does unto others what one expects to be done unto oneself.

The US government is a bloody hypocrite. It is about time the Chinese government stands up to them and show them that they (the Chinese government) are no pushovers.

Posted by: TheBornLoser | October 8, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

This is the right thing to do by the US. It's clear that China's words and promises mean nothing.

China and Chinese companies have absolutely no innovation whatsoever. What they do is steal technology and mass produce that product at a low price to eliminate competition.

It's clear that China and Chinese companies cannot be trusted. Take for example the recent fishing boat incident with Japan. Because the Japanese apprehended the rogue ship captain, China in turn slowed down the delivery of mined materials to Japan to use as leverage.

China is two faced and talks out of two mouths, and neither one can be trusted.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 8, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

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