Can we ignore concerns that made Huawei a pariah?
Published 10/01/2013 | 05:00
HUAWEI'S decision to set up a new research and development centre split between Dublin and Cork and creating 50 jobs will be welcome news.
However, it is a sign of where we are as a country and where the world economy is now that we are relying on investment from a firm that is not looked on very favourably in the west.
Consumers in Ireland will be familiar with it thanks to the modems it makes for the likes of O2 and Vodafone.
On the other side of the Atlantic, however, Huawei is one of the most controversial companies in the US.
Last October, the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee issued a blistering report on Huawei and other Chinese companies, accusing them of being a national security threat because of their ties to the Chinese government.
Committee chairman Mike Rogers said: "Huawei and ZTE seek to expand in the US, but as a result of our investigation we do not have the confidence that these two companies with their ties to the Chinese government can be trusted with infrastructure of such critical importance."
In a nutshell, the committee feared that by doing business with Huawei, the US would leave itself open to cyber attacks on critical infrastructure such as the national grid.
Huawei pushed back strongly against the report, claiming it “ignored Huawei’s proven track record of network security in the US and globally, and instead employed rumour and speculation to prove non-existent accusations”.
Much of this, of course, is US paranoia, but should we be concerned that Huawei is expanding here while being a pariah in one of our most important trading partners? It's an open question.