The “truce village” at Panmunjom in Korea’s demilitarized zone.
The US expressed concerns that Chinese network hardware could be used to spy on South Korean-US military communications.
Bowing to requests from the US government, South Korean officials have agreed to route government communications over networks that don’t use equipment from Huawei, the Chinese network and telecommunications company.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that defense communications and other sensitive data sent between the South Korean and US military, as well as other government communications, would be kept away from commercial networks that heavily use Huawei hardware.
Concerns about Huawei’s connections to the Chinese military have led to the company being excluded from other networks. In 2012, Australia banned Huawei from bidding on its national broadband network due to fears of espionage.
And the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a report advising US telecommunications carriers against using Huawei hardware, essentially shutting the company out of the US market. “Based on available classified and unclassified information,” the report concluded, “Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat.” The US also excluded Huawei from bidding on a contract for a network for first responders in 2011.
Huawei has already sold gear to a number of major network providers in South Korea, some of whom provide network services to the US military. LG Uplus (which was targeted by a North Korean cyberattack last spring) confirmed through a spokesperson that it widely uses Huawei equipment and that it counts members of the US military among its customers. “US Forces in Korea is one of our valuable customers, and we will do our best to satisfy our customers,” an LG Uplus spokesman told the Journal.