Senators Highlight Supply-Chain Management Concerns in Letter to Administration

The possibility of a Chinese firm providing equipment to Sprint Nextel has caused some senators to raise their concerns regarding supply-chain integrity, in an open letter to administration officials.

In a letter addressed to DNI Jim Clapper, Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, eight senators raised their concerns that the possibility that Chinese firm Huawei Technologies supplying equipment to Sprint Nextel could pose serious national security risks to the United States.

“Sprint Nextel supplies important equipment to the US. military and law enforcement agencies, and it offers a broad array of devices, systems, software and services to the private sector,” the senators write. “We are concerned that Huawei’s position as a supplier of Sprint Nextel could create substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undernine U.S. national security.”

The senators highlighted Huawei’s past work in providing communications technology to Iraq under Saddam Hussein and to Iran. Huawei has also been accused of stealing intellectual property.

Most importantly for the senators, however, is the alleged links between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army.

“We have been informed that Huawei is the preferred provider of telecommunications products and services to the PLA and Chinese embassies,” they write. “In addition to the close relationship between Huawei senior leadership and the PLA, press reports also suggest that a number of Huawei employees have direct ties to the PLA.”

That causes some supply management concerns, namely that Chinese government officials could place malware onto hardware to be provided to Sprint Nextel.

“Given China’s well documented focus on developing cyber warfare capabilities, Huawei’s ties to the PLA have aroused concern in a number of other nations in which it does business,” the senators write. “According to reports, British, French, Australian, and Indian intelligence agencies have either investigated Huawei or expressed concern that its products could facilitate remote hacking and thereby compromise the integrity of the telecommunications networks in their countries.”

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