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Entrusting China With Our Internet A Bad Idea

Greed still triumphs over common sense and the common good, despite everything we've learned from the meltdown of our financial institutions.
Greed still triumphs over common sense and the common good, despite everything we've learned from the meltdown of our financial institutions.I tend to avoid making sweeping generalizations or giving credence to xenophobic tendencies, especially since global commerce is generally the most effective cultural lubricant known to man. Trading partners tend to avoid military conflict, and that's a very good thing.

I had mixed feelings when security concerns scuttled plans by Chinese technology conglomerate Huawei to acquire 3Com, and later, Nortel's Ethernet division last year.

But recent news about China's ghost network demonstrates just how serious the Chinese government is about preparing for information war. The Chinese government's denials notwithstanding, Huawei has ties to the Chinese government that are too close for comfort. Even the normally placid British are nervous about equipment Huawei installed on BT's telecom network.

Sadly, but somehow not surprisingly, the business community has applauded separate deals Huawei has struck with Cox and Clearwire, respectively. Forbes, the official organ of the American corporate elite, blithely set security concerns aside, as if they had been actually resolved rather than simply swept under the rug.


If Huawei's Cox and Clearwire deals go through without regulatory hurdles, worries over those "nefarious links" may be put to rest.

Um, put to rest? Ignored would be the better term.

There are no safeguards against any snooping that Huawei might do, no oversight of their work, no promises other than Huawei's own words to the effect that they're just another business.


Our success internationally is based on our ability to provide quality products and services and value and innovation to our customers, not on any nefarious links to any government or any institution.

But they're not just another business. Above, I referred to Huawei as a conglomerate, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with U.S. companies doing business with any of its myriad business divisions, many of which are oriented towards technology that doesn't touch the backbone of the Internet.

Not even the possibility that China could be responsible for the Conficker worm that is spreading around the globe gives pause to the greedy.

I hope this never comes to pass, but we may be witnessing the germ of yet another cataclysm foisted upon Americans by socially irresponsible businesspeople who will later throw up their hands and say, "but we had no idea this was going to happen."

Oh yes they do, but it's not too late to stop them.

Carolyn Maloney is on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, and she has a track record of stopping foreign investment in areas affecting U.S. policy and security, from ports to electronic voting machines.

Her office phone in Washington, D.C. is 202.225.7944. I'm sure she'd like to hear from you.