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China's Huawei continues work with GCHQ to gain government trust

China's telco giant Huawei is currently working more closely than ever with British governing bodies, a European executive told ITProPortal, as the company fights to earn greater trust in western markets.

Having established itself as one of the biggest networking manufacturers in the world thanks to dominance in Asia, Huawei is keen to expand its influence in Europe and beyond, but the firm has been dogged with accusations its products contain dangerous security flaws. Its links to the Chinese state have also triggered concerns, particularly in the US, who frequently accuse China of hacking American organisations and stealing intellectual property.

There have subsequently been calls within the UK for caution to be exercised when integrating Huawei infrastructure for important national networks. With domestic stalwart BT a Huawei customer, the UK government said it planned to scrutinise Huawei's hardware and source code for potential issues, as an official review was carried out at the company's cyber-security cell in Oxford.

But Lars-Christian Weisswange, Executive Vice President of Huawei's Consumer Business Group in Germany, explained to ITProPortal at IFA 2013 that, "honestly speaking, we are working very closely with GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters] just to make sure that the British government is happy with our network equipment.

"We're getting certifications from them and we're working very openly with them to make sure there are no security risks for anyone, and this openness is very, very important for us."

Huawei has repeatedly emphasised its policy of increased transparency as it seeks to limit reputational damage caused by the security accusations, and Weisswange said the campaign is paying dividends and providing a platform for growth in new markets. "I think that especially our engagement with the UK on the security side has helped us to actually gain trust in the European space," he said.

Though Weisswange added that the very passing of time will also see Huawei's standing improve. He believes older generations in the west are more inclined to harbour suspicions about Chinese companies expanding on their shores, whereas China's presence will be a norm for younger people now entering the worlds of technology and business.

"We are not hiding our Chinese roots. We are a privately owned company - the biggest in China - and the younger generations have more trust with China anyway. Speak to people in the school yard today or in universities, and they see China as a big chance for them personally. They realise that all their technical equipment is coming from China," he said.

Huawei was one of many companies ITProPortal cornered at this year's IFA show in Berlin, so check out our hub for all the announcements, analysis and new products from the past week.