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US panel to probe new Huawei, ZTE complaints

WASHINGTON--A U.S. congressional report that urged American companies to stop doing business with Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE has triggered a fresh wave of complaints against the firms, opening a second phase to the panel's investigation.

A staff member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the panel has been receiving “dozens and dozens” of calls from current and former employees and customers reporting supposedly suspicious equipment behavior, chiefly involving Huawei.

“I don't think the companies should expect our attention to stop,” the staff member told Reuters, adding that the panel would follow up on new leads. The staffer was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

In a report issued on Monday after an 11-month investigation, the House committee warned U.S. industry that Beijing could use equipment made by the two companies to spy on certain communications and threaten vital systems through computerized links. It urged network providers to seek other vendors.

The report also advised the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency government panel that vets foreign deals for security concerns, to block any future business tie-ups involving Huawei or ZTE and U.S. companies.

Huawei, the world's second-largest maker of routers and other telecom gear, and ZTE, the fifth-largest, both rejected the allegations. China's Commerce Ministry said the U.S. committee had “made groundless accusations against China.”

Adding to Huawei's problems, Canada indicated on Tuesday that it would exclude Huawei from firms allowed to build a secure Canadian government communications network, citing possible security risks.

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