Over the past decade, an unprecedented escalation in Chinese espionage cases on U.S. soil has been detected. Consequently, a series of counterintelligence activities were unleashed by federal law enforcement agencies, who confirmed the intentions of the Chinese communist regime to illegally obtain valuable information from both U.S. citizens and U.S. agencies.
Since 2017, the FBI and other agencies have been investigating Chinese purchases of U.S. land in sectors neighboring critical infrastructure, the behavior of suspicious Chinese citizens, Chinese embassies, consulates, and companies accused of collaborating with information trafficking.
Among the most alarming cases detected by the FBI is the Chinese-made Huawei antenna equipment atop cell phone towers near U.S. military bases.
According to multiple sources in a recent CNN publication, the FBI determined that Huawei equipment can capture and disrupt highly restricted Department of Defense communications, including those used by the Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons.
Concerns about Huawei equipment near U.S. military facilities
Concerns about the presence of Huawei antennas and equipment in the United States are longstanding, and federal agencies are known to have been investigating these matters for years.
The results of the FBI investigation recently published by CNN ensure that there is no doubt that the Huawei systems installed can intercept not only commercial cellular traffic but also highly restricted radio waves used by the federal military and intelligence services.
This possibility gives the Chinese regime enormous potential by gaining access to, among other things, the computer system of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The investigation was so secret that the FBI did not inform some senior White House officials and several important government agencies of its existence until 2019.
That same year, due to the FBI’s secret investigation, the U.S. Federal Telecommunications Commission announced that it would prohibit small communications providers from using Huawei and other Chinese-branded devices to provide services to their users.
A year later, Congress approved an extraordinary appropriation of nearly $2 billion to invest in national communications systems to completely replace Huawei technology in large rural areas of the United States.
However, so far, none of the equipment from Huawei and technology from other Chinese companies located in the vicinity of U.S. military bases in Malmstrom, Montana, has been withdrawn. More than 100 intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles are located there, along with the Strategic Command that oversees the country’s nuclear arsenal.
Recently, it was reported that the Department of Commerce is evaluating the investigations by the FBI and reconsidering the situation, which could indicate that new measures against the Chinese company and its telecommunication antennas will be determined soon.
Due to the lack of official information, it is unclear whether the intelligence community has confirmed whether data was intercepted and sent to Beijing from these towers or whether it is only a latent threat for the time being.
Sources familiar with the matter state that, from a technical point of view, it is extremely complex to prove that a data package was seized and sent abroad.
Huawei’s dark history makes its technology untrustworthy
For several years now, Huawei has been accused of violating the privacy of its users by tracking and sharing personal data with the Chinese communist regime.
Several Western governments have even prevented Huawei from participating in its new 5G networks, arguing concerns that the company may be helping Beijing with intelligence gathering and biometric tracking.
Huawei has dismissed all accusations assuring that it is only in the business of selling general-purpose networking equipment. However, countries such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Germany had already in 2020 banned the installation of 5G antennas from the telecom giant, arguing it to be a potential danger to national security.
A report published by the Washington Post in December 2021 deepened the alerts by ensuring that the Chinese company possesses the technology to identify people by their voice, monitor persons of interest, track the movements of people in prison, control work schedules, and so many other controversial functions. Those Functions are extremely useful for an absolutist regime like China’s that is involved in countless actions infringing on individual freedoms, both inside and outside their country.
The new details about Huawei’s surveillance products come amid growing concern in China and worldwide about the consequences of widespread facial recognition and biometric tracking.
Canada bans Huawei
Canada became the latest country to join the list of governments that decided to ban the development of Huawei’s 5G technology within its territory, citing national security concerns.
Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced in mid-May that Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, which had previously installed 5G equipment, were to slow down the process and remove it by June 2024.
For years, the U.S. government has urged Canada to join the rest of its Five Eyes allies in removing Huawei from new 5G wireless networks over cyber espionage concerns with the Chinese regime.
Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said, “the decision should have been taken two or three years ago, but it’s a case of better late than never.” The former official also warned about the dangerousness of the Chinese regime in the way it obtains information to fulfill its objectives.
Saint-Jacques assured that, according to Chinese law, no company could refuse a request from the regime to share information, making it impossible to allow Huawei’s participation.
In addition to the ban, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada would draft new legislation to protect the financial, telecommunications, energy, and transportation from cyber threats.
The U.S. pioneered the ban on Huawei’s 5G network. However, the Chinese firm continues to be a lower-intensity signal provider.
But if the Commerce Department reconfirms that Huawei threatens national security, it could go well beyond the restrictions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Commerce Department could use the powers it gained during the Trump administration and ban all U.S. transactions with Huawei, requiring even the country’s telecom operators that still rely on its equipment to remove it quickly or face fines or other sanctions.