With international scrutiny growing on Huawei’s activities, the company is desperately trying every trick in the book. Their methods include bribing American journalists in a bid to influence them to put out reports framing the corporation in a positive light. Huawei is facing boycotts in several nations due to its association with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and allegations of spying.
Josh Rogin, a reporter for The Washington Post, was one of the first U.S. journalists to expose Huawei’s bribery attempts. Rogin received an email stating that he could visit Huawei’s campus in Shenzhen and meet company executives for “off-record discussions” on the challenges Huawei was facing in the United States.
The letter also asked Rogin to not discuss the content with anyone else. But the journalist went ahead and posted the email on Twitter for the world to see. “#Huawei is inviting me on an all-expenses-paid junket to China? That’s gonna be a hard pass. Any American journalist who takes Huawei money should be ashamed and shamed,” he said in a tweet.
After the tweet, several pro-Chinese media outlets ran a campaign against Rogin, accusing him of “blowing things out of proportion.” A TV station in China also did an entire show around the incident.
However, Rogin isn’t the only one who has received such messages from Huawei representatives. Anna Swanson, a journalist with The New York Times, confirmed the same. “Huawei sent out a letter to U.S. journalists inviting us to visit their campuses. The invitation was sent to my colleagues and I… via the Chinese embassy,” she said in a tweet.
The fact that Huawei chose to send the invitation through a government channel rather than their own offices is another indication of how the corporation is deeply connected to the CCP. The company seems to not understand that Western journalists operate differently than those in China.
“While taking such trips are a common occurrence in the Chinese news industry, accepting free junkets for journalists is a major line not to be crossed in the West, as it could impact the objectivity of the journalist,” according to The Epoch Times.
Warning to Germany
Meanwhile, the U.S. has warned Germany not to use Huawei to build its 5G network. Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, sent a letter to the German government stating that America would have no choice but to curtail the intelligence it shares with Berlin. This is largely a step to avoid the risk of Huawei equipment leaking sensitive communications between the two countries.
The letter was sent after Germany had announced that it might not ban Huawei’s 5G hardware, but will test it thoroughly to ensure that it is not a security risk. However, such actions are not likely to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment.
“Because 5G networks are largely software-defined, updates pushed to the network by the manufacturer can radically change how they operate… The 5G networks our allies buy won’t be the networks that they eventually operate, as the software could be changed on a moment-to-moment basis by the manufacturer,” Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said to CNN.
Steps are also being taken to curb Huawei’s access to U.S. technological knowledge. Recently, Rep. Jim Banks introduced legislation that would ban foreign entities of adversary nations from entering into partnerships with U.S. universities and colleges that conduct research on critical technologies. At present, over 50 American universities have agreements with Huawei.