European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip said on Friday that Europe should be worried about Chinese telecom vendors like Huawei due to growing concerns about cybersecurity risks.
“I think we have to be worried about these companies,” Ansip, who deals with digital issues at the Commission, said of Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies at a news conference, in unusually strong terms for a top EU official.
“They have to cooperate with their intelligence services. This is about mandatory backdoors. I was always against having those mandatory backdoors,” he said, adding: “[It is] about chips they can put somewhere to get our secrets.”
The Chinese company is under renewed scrutiny after its Chief Financial Officer Sabrina Meng was arrested in Canada Saturday.
“We dont know exactly what the reason was to arrest somebody in Canada,” Ansip said, but added:” Its not a good sign when companies have to open their systems for some kind of secret services.”
“As normal ordinary people, of course we have to be afraid,” he said.
European Commission officials think Huaweis dominance of the telecom vendor space is threatening Europes strategic autonomy and long-term security, according to an internal document reported earlier by POLITICO.
“We categorically reject we are a threat to national security,” a spokesperson for Huawei said. “Can anyone in the U.S., in Canada, in Belgium or anywhere else show us any proof [of backdoors]?”
“Huawei has never been asked and would never provide … espionage to any government,” the spokesperson said.
“Lets treat cybersecurity as a technical issue so we can work together to secure networks. Not politicize it,” the spokesperson added. “We dont want to be singled out because were Chinese.”
CORRECTION: This article was updated to correct the day Meng was arrested.
UPDATE: This story was updated to include a comment from Huawei.