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Opinion: Should Huawei be taking shots at its critics?

Huawei has been making global headline news for a while now, with scandals ranging from spy allegations to illegal trading deals. However, it seems that Huawei has had enough and is no longer taking the claims made against them both by governments and media agencies lying down. 

There have been recent reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other tech publications concerning a letter Huawei sent to some companies that support the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). 

The impression given in the Fairfax post was that Huawei was trying to “Heap Pressure” on them. Well according to Huawei, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Huawei states, “We did write to several companies that are supporters of ASPI and who are also partners of Huawei. As these companies have a business relationship with Huawei we wanted to ensure that they had access to the facts about our company and also understand our disappointment with the actions of ASPI.

“Given that some vested interests are trying to turn this understandable action and paint it as something sinister, we feel it’s important that you are afforded the full facts and make your own judgments.”

As a response to the critics, Huawei released the full letter and it is an interesting read. 

The letter starts off, “As you would be aware, over recent months there has been a lot of media coverage of Huawei. You would have also noticed in most of the media reports there have been negative comments about Huawei from an Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) spokesperson.

“As your company is a major contributor to ASPI but also a partner of Huawei, I wanted to write to you to ensure you have the opportunity to receive more balanced and fact-based information.”

“We have been extremely disappointed in the way ASPI has conducted itself when it comes to Huawei. We understand and agree with the issue of cybersecurity. In fact, Huawei has been a global leader in openly discussing and offering solutions to the policy challenges governments and the technology industry faces to secure network data and equipment. “

Simply from those first few lines, it’s easy to see how the letter could be interpreted negatively, especially after a long streak of bad press. However, I do feel that it’s always important to give both sides of the argument a chance to speak if they’re willing. 

The letter continues, “As a China-based supplier we understand the bar is set higher for us in many markets, that’s why Huawei goes the extra mile to provide your customers with the highest levels of security.

“ASPI seems to have an unhealthy fixation on our company that has crossed the threshold of independent fact-based thinking to become the “go to” organisation for all things anti-China.”

“Huawei is a private company with a 30-year unblemished cybersecurity track record and has delivered safe and secure technology to Australians for 15 years.”

This part is where the letter gets really interesting as it’s the first time we’ve really seen Huawei fire back at a source of negative press, no holds barred. However, these comments, in turn, have only sparked more concern surrounding the company’s dealings. 

Though that being said it’s important to remember that Huawei is one of the worlds largest providers of network equipment and that without them some countries will definitely lag behind in the highly anticipated 5G network transition. That being said being denied contracts will impact Huawei’s bottom line just as much. 

So it’s easy to see why Huawei is attempting to be more drastic about clearing the air as we move deeper into 2019. 

The letter concludes “Huawei has offered ASPI the opportunity to visit our Shenzhen HQ to see firsthand the global operations, our manufacturing processes and meet with our security team to discuss openly and transparently these highly important issues. Unfortunately, ASPI continues to refuse to engage.

“We know your company has vigorous due diligence processes and you understand our company well. We also know your brand is associated with ours and this sort of one-sided reporting may also reflect on your company.”

“As a partner of Huawei, I wanted to offer to you and your senior management the opportunity to receive any fact-based briefings or information you may need. It is vital these important policy areas are addressed sensibly and carefully.”

“Cybersecurity policy is an important area for our economy and strategic future, it should be openly discussed and debated. The discussion needs to be fact-based and driven by open and transparent reasoning. We feel ASPI has let both our companies down by their fixation on painting Huawei as the enemy without any evidence to back it up.”

By the end, it’s clear the Huawei is done sitting down and just taking negative comments, however, I am left wondering if sending out this letter was the best way to re-engage with concerned parties. 

If nothing else, this letter has kept them in the news cycle, which depending on how you look at it may be a good thing.