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Feb 1 2019   5:45AM GMT

Malaysia mulls over Huawei’s role in 5G networks

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

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Malaysia has become the latest country to look into the security concerns surrounding Huawei, which has been accused by mostly western powers of conducting corporate espionage and potentially installing backdoors for the Chinese government.

Earlier this week, Malaysia’s communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is working on a report on the matter before the government decides if it will ban the use of Huawei’s equipment on 5G networks.

“When it comes to 5G, there are many views that have been put forward. The focus is for us to study the system and to make sure the system is secure because we anticipate this is a technology that is going to change things in the years to come,” he told local media.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the security allegations, noting that it has been adopting a “whiter than white” approach to alleviate security concerns, such as undergoing third-party certification of its hardware, software and solutions.

“If we look at the results of those certifications, we can clearly see over the past 30 years, Huawei and Huawei’s equipment has maintained a very solid and correct record in our industry when it comes to cyber security. We have never had a serious cyber security incident for our equipment,” Huawei rotating chairman Ken Hu said in December 2018.

Noting that Huawei is a private company owned by its employees, Hu said it has never taken any requests from any governments to damage the business or networks of customers or other countries.

“The fact is that over the last 30 years, there’s been no major cyber security incident; there’s been no cyber security threat; and there’s been no evidence showing that Huawei is damaging cyber security. And we’ll continue to take proactive communication engagement and also open collaboration so more and more people will be able to realise this.”

On the backdoor issue, Hu deferred to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China who has formally clarified that no law in China requires companies to install mandatory backdoors.

“Of course, just like the US and Australia, China also has certain legal requirements for counter terrorism or cyber security objectives,” Hu added. “China also specially emphasises that all government institutions or agencies must enforce the law according to the law. There are clear definitions.

“For Huawei, our approach is to address these issues in strict accordance to the law. In the past, we haven’t received any requests to provide improper information. In the future, we will also follow in strict accordance to the law in dealing with similar situations. When we talk about according to the law, the law has clear stipulations around the terms of reference for related agencies.”

In Malaysia, where Huawei has a growing presence through its consumer products and public sector partnerships in areas such as cyber security, the government’s 5G decision, following the release of the MCMC report, will have to take into consideration Malaysia’s 5G roadmap and how its ties with the Chinese company will be affected.

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