Huawei P20 Pro (pictured) is the latest flagship phone from the Shenzhen-based company, which is now the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world
The heads of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and the director of US National Intelligence, have warned against the use of Huawei and ZTE smartphones.
Elsewhere, the Pentagon ordered all retail outlets on US military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE branded smartphones.
FBI director Chris Wray said the government was ‘deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.’
These concerns stem from the fact that both Huawei and ZTE have demonstrable links to the Chinese government.
Huawei founder and president Ren Zhengfei had a successful military career in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and ZTE has close financial ties to the Chinese government.
Other Chinese companies such as Lenovo, Xiaomi, and Oppo do not have the same ties and as such, haven’t drawn the same scrutiny from US politicians.
‘Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said earlier this year.
‘There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn’t make it any easier for China to spy on us’.
However, there has yet to be any public evidence that Huawei or ZTE products could endanger the privacy or digital security of consumers.
Huawei and ZTE both dispute claims from the US government they pose a threat to national security.
A spokesperson for Huawei said: ‘Huawei is aware of a range of US government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the US market.
‘Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities.’
In a statement, ZTE said: ‘As a publicly traded company, we are committed to adhering to all applicable laws and regulations of the United States, work with carriers to pass strict testing protocols, and adhere to the highest business standards.
‘ZTE takes cybersecurity and privacy seriously and remains a trusted partner to our US suppliers, US customers and the people who use our products.’