China’s Commerce Minister Chen Demming has chastised the United States for its continued suspicions of technology firms Huawei and ZTE. Speaking at the nation's 18th Communist Party Congress on Saturday, the high ranking party member described the US’ behaviour as indicative of a “Cold War mentality”.
The climate of suspicion towards the companies intensified after the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee last month warned against the use of Huawei and ZTE’s equipment. The admonishment was due to the belief that wares from the two Chinese companies could be used for the purpose of espionage.
Minister Demming argued that the US complaint “smacks a little of Cold War mentality.” He went on to highlight the dangers of blacklisting the world’s second-largest telecoms infrastructure firm - Huawei - and fifth-largest - ZTE - for a perceived link to the Chinese government.
“The U.S. raised the security issue of Huawei and ZTE to the level where they are asking whether the companies have Communist Party cells and what their relations are with the party,” said Demming. “Can you imagine if China started asking U.S. companies coming to China what their relationship was with the Democratic or Republican parties? It would be a mess. Personally I think this has gone too far.”
He also refuted recent accusations made by the US congressional panel that Chinese investment in the United States is a “potential Trojan horse”.
"If you see me as a Trojan horse, how should I view you? By this logic, if the Americans turned it around, they would see that it's not in their interest to think this way."
Neither Huawei or ZTE are state-owned companies, however the initial Intelligence Committee report highlighted the presence of Communist Party members in both companies managerial hierarchy in support of its claims. This is not surprising as a growing number of private Chinese firms have a Communist Party secretary placed in high office.
Following the release of the warning by the Intelligence Committee, a White House review of both companies found some of the concerns cited in the Congressional report may have been overstated, with anonymous sources claiming the investigators had been "committed to a predetermined outcome."