5G Security Challenges Webinar: “Lenovo is more Chinese than Huawei”

Last week, the Parliamentary Intelligence-Security forum (PI-SF) held a webinar titled “5G Security Challenges.” The second in the 5G security series, Congressman Robert Pittenger hosted a lively conversation featuring U.S. political leaders and European lawmakers to discuss the growing threat from China’s 5G ambitions. One major takeaway from the event was that we must be aware of the dangers of Chinese technolgy, not just from Huawei, but from companies such as Lenovo, GE and Motorola. As one panelist put it, “The Chinese Communist Party is hiding behind its vendors.”

The webinar featured former Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), Hon. Jason Boswell, Head of Security for the Network and Product Solutions Department at Ericsson, and Hon. Sohan Dasguspta, Deputy Counsel for the U.S Department of Homeland Security. Representing the Europe was Romanian delegate Pavel Popescu, United Kingdom Parliament member Col. Bob Stewart, and China Tech Threat’s own John Strand, also CEO of Strand Consult. Strand is a leading expert on Huawei, and his reports provide documentation to the market share of Huawei in global telecom networks.

Participants agreed about the importance protecting against Chinese cyber security threats, especially in 5G networks. “The stakes could not be higher,” said Dasguspta in reference to China’s influence over 5G networks. China’s growing dominance in 5G technologies is compounded by the country’s Civil-Military Fusion strategy, the panel noted, which require Chinese companies to support the government’s and military’s initiatives.

“Lenovo is more Chinese than Huawei,” Strand said, referring to U.S. restrictions that have been applied to Huawei but not Lenovo, despite evidence tying both companies to the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army. “[Lenovo is] 29 percent owned by the Chinese government… There is tons of evidence regarding Lenovo. Policymakers have sought to restrict Huawei because of the risks to data when being transported in telecom networks. However, data is also at risk when stored and processed on servers and laptops produced by Lenovo and other Chinese government owned firms. Securing the network means addressing all the relevant elements including transport, storage, and processing layers.” 

“There is bipartisan agreement about the dangers of allowing Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese telecoms companies that are really an extension of the Chinese intelligence service and the surveillance state to continue to benefit off the U.S.,” said Rep. Rodgers.

Col. Stewart offered the Biden administration a frank assessment of the Chinese threat: “The fact of the matter is, we don’t trust China.”

The full webinar is available here.