Banned Chinese telecoms giant expresses interest in Antigua-Barbuda

By Caribbean News Now contributorbrowne_huawei2BEIJING, China — One of the world’s largest telecommunications company, Huawei of China, which has been banned from doing business with US companies as a result of spyware discovered in some of its devices, has expressed an interest in doing business in Antigua and Barbuda.

During an official visit to China, Prime Minister Gaston Browne met with members of the management team of the multi-billion dollar telecoms company and discussed avenues of cooperation in Antigua and Barbuda.

Browne informed the Huawei executives that his government is determined to create an environment in Antigua and Barbuda that is conducive to profit generation and ease of doing business. He noted that the country’s tax structure will be restructured to favour investments.

The prime minister also outlined that Antigua and Barbuda is poised to become the economic powerhouse under his administration and it will be the gateway for conglomerates such as Huawei to enter Latin American and Caribbean markets.

During the meeting, Huawei announced that it will be putting together a team to visit Antigua and Barbuda by mid-September to explore the possible collaboration with APUA PCS and the establishment of mobile, internet and cable television services.

In addition to being the largest telecommunications company in Europe and providing people across all geographic areas with ease of access to high-quality voice communications services, Huawei continuously focuses on bridging the digital divide through broadband, talent, and applications. The company promotes broadband availability everywhere and leverages future-oriented ICT technologies to address global challenges.

However, in a report issued in October 2012 after an 11-month investigation, the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee warned US industry that Beijing could use equipment made by Huawei to spy on certain communications and threaten vital systems through computerized links. It urged network providers to seek other vendors.

The report also advised officials to block any future business tie-ups involving Huawei and US companies.

Huawei, the world’s second-largest maker of routers and other telecom gear, rejected the allegations. China’s commerce ministry said the US committee had “made groundless accusations against China.”

In 2013, retired United States Air Force general, Michael Hayden, who used to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), said that Huawei had shared “intimate and extensive knowledge” of the telecommunications infrastructure it is involved in with the Chinese government.

Hayden said he had seen “hard evidence” of spying activity performed by Huawei, on behalf of the Chinese government.

Huawei’s global security officer and former UK government official, John Suffolk, issued a statement saying that the allegations were “tired” and challenged Hayden or anyone to present evidence.

“It’s time put up or shut up,” he said.

However, Hayden said that Huawei had fallen short of passing any litmus test to convince him otherwise.

“These guys are not even transparent to themselves. There’s no transparency around who appoints the board or who controls the ownership of the business. And there’s no independent Chinese government oversight committee that could give us confidence that Huawei would not do what they promised not to do,” he pointed out.

Huawei has also been linked to selling embargoed equipment to Iran and running one of its telecommunications networks.

The British government also announced that it planned to review security infrastructure at a security center operated by Huawei in southern England, and Australia banned the company from bidding on a multi-billion dollar national broadband network.

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