Narration: This is a 172-page Huawei internal document written in 2015. It was leaked in 2018. The document is entitled “VCM (video content management) Operation Guide.” It was used to train the Chinese regime’s internet police on how to monitor, analyze, and process video content in real time. The police were expected to send out alerts if they found anything “suspicious.”
Simone Gao: It is a standard operation for China’s “Golden Shield Project,” one function of which is to block access to sensitive information, and the “Skynet System,” used for surveillance of the whole society. Huawei has also played an extensive role in building and upgrading China’s Great Firewall, and it continues to function as a core technology and equipment provider for all of China’s surveillance apparatus.
Narration: According to Huawei’s official website, among more than one hundred clients who are using Huawei’s video cloud service, over half of them are local police departments, prisons, and police schools. Huawei also publicly announced that they will undertake the construction of more than 30 “safe cities” across the country. A “safe city” is the local public security’s urban surveillance system.
Narration: Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei has a background in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). His wife, Meng Jun, is the daughter of a prominent PLA political officer. Huawei Chairwoman, Sun Yafang, according to CIA reports, has a background in the Ministry of State Security (MSS), China’s intelligence agency.
Simone Gao: Does Huawei pose a national security threat to countries who use its technology to deploy 5G networks? Ganley likens it to getting someone else to build your ship.
Declan Ganley: If somebody builds your ships and they know where the welds are, where the hinges of the doors are, what the weak structural points are, what the strong points are, where you can flood, where you can’t, where the engine room is, how it operates, what temperature the engines can max out at, when do things start breaking, what are the vulnerabilities. If you’re the shipbuilder and you know those things, you know things about that ship, that network, that even the ship owner doesn’t know. And it’s not that you may have your crew onboard the ship all of the time, you don’t need to. But if you want to take over the ship, and you want to use it for your own purposes, you know where to cut the hulls. You know the routes to take, et cetera. It’s a simplistic way of explaining it, but it’s just, as you asked the question. The equipment, the software, the technology over which all of this information runs, whoever controls the supply, the architecture, the maintenance, who’s providing the equipment, they know where the weaknesses are, they know where the strengths are, they know how to compromise those networks when and where they want to.
Simone Gao: Besides government-level security, could the privacy of ordinary consumers also be compromised on a Huawei 5G network? I had this discussion with senior investigative reporter Joshua Phillips from the Epoch Times.
Simone Gao: If a country uses Huawei technology and equipment for their 5G deployment, besides national security implications, what impact will it have on ordinary consumers?
Joshua Phillips: Basically, 5G technology would give the Chinese Communist Party—or, say, Huawei, them through Huawei, access to an electromagnetic spectrum that is able to, say, access or compromise any device within that field. I mean, similar to Wi-Fi in your home, right. Any device within that field is able to, say, access that Wi-Fi network. The concern is that if, say, government offices or military offices were nearby, let’s say a consumer home that is using 5G technology, or say a big business that has a very large, say, 5G field around it from these technologies, what does that mean in terms of how they can access the devices or compromise the devices in that other facility. These are kind of next-gen cybersecurity concerns, but very real concerns that 5G is bringing about. And it’s why the United States, of course, has banned Huawei 5G technology.
Simone Gao: Tell us what Huawei really is. We know it has connections to the Chinese military. It also provides surveillance equipment to the Chinese police force. Does that make it abnormal and not trustworthy?
Joshua Phillips: I’d say the bigger picture, aside from, say, the backgrounds of the individuals who run the company, are what Huawei is being used for by the Chinese Communist Party. If you look at, say, the Chinese Communist Party’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, this isn’t just China, China going in and building infrastructure projects. This is the Chinese Communist Party implementing its new GPS system, it’s implementing its new, say, internet infrastructure, which is separate from the normal internet infrastructure. And Huawei plays a role in that. And it’s also implementing social control systems. Things like, similar, I’d say, to the social credit system. Things similar to the Great Firewall and the Golden Shield. And keep in mind Huawei is involved in both the Great Firewall and the Golden Shield. Huawei plays a key role in these totalitarian technologies that these countries where China’s doing these infrastructure projects can turn on if they wish. So China is not using Huawei as just a normal company. For the Chinese Communist Party, Huawei is a key foundation for its broader objectives in spreading the China model. And this is a totalitarian communist system that looks to use high technology to—I mean, if you look at the social credit system, monitor your every online purchase, monitor every friend you make, look at what your social connections are, what your beliefs are, what are your political views. And it will judge you and rate you and give you a citizen score based on these things. And your freedom in that society or your oppression in that society are going to be determined by your rating. China is exporting this technology, and Huawei plays a role in it.