“New revelations prove that the U.S. also posed a threat to others’ security”

China on Monday said it was “greatly concerned” by reports alleging that a special unit of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) had hacked into the network and systems of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, as well as into commercial products sold by the company to third parties.

The Chinese government said it had asked the U.S. to “explain itself and stop such acts,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters here.

The reports said the NSA, which had also mounted an “intelligence offensive” targeting Chinese leaders including former President Hu Jintao, had copied a list of 1,400 customers of Huawei as well as internal documents.

Huawei, the world’s second largest provider of network equipment, is also a major provider of telecom equipment to India, where it has a fast-expanding customer base, leaving open the possibility that systems sold to Indian companies and their networks may have also been compromised.

“If the actions in the report are true, Huawei condemns such activities that invaded and infiltrated into our internal corporate network and monitored our communications,” Huawei’s Vice-President for International Affairs Roland Sladek said in a statement.

Source of debate

Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government have long been a source of debate and concern to officials in countries ranging from the U.S. and India to Australia.

Shen Yi, associate professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the U.S. had “long considered Huawei as a security threat for fear that the ‘backdoors’ of its products would make the country as a target of cyber attacks.”

But the new revelations, he told the Global Times newspaper, had proven that the U.S. also posed a “threat to others’ security.”

The publishing of the report by The New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel, based on documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, came a day ahead of Monday’s meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama in The Hague, ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit. Interestingly, the previous summit meeting between the two leaders in Sunnylands, California in June last year also took place under the shadow of cybersecurity tensions, after The Washington Post published an article on the eve of that meeting, also based on the Snowden documents, detailing the NSA’s tapping of servers of leading U.S. Internet firms.

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