Eric Schmidt in retirement chairs the Pentagon’s Defence Innovation Board and has a top security clearance. He would know if the hundreds or thousands of analysts the U.S. has tracking Huawei had found any substantial espionage. The NSA has a $50 billion budget and is very good at what they do. If they haven’t found anything significant, it almost surely isn’t there.
Everybody outside Western security forces, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, has pointed out there is no evidence that Huawei has done any spying. Schmidt, talking to the BBC, is probably the first informed source to make a meaningful claim. Talking to the BBC, he made the interesting claim
“There’s no question that information from Huawei routers has ultimately ended up in hands that would appear to be the state. However that happened, we’re sure it happened.”
If you accept my assumption above, that Huawei is not spying, there’s a sensible conclusion: The Chinese security folks have cracked Huawei routers. That’s highly likely; almost anything crackable and the Chinese are good. (The Americans may still be more advanced.)
Of course, the only way Schmidt could know what the Chinese have is if the NSA had hacked China, exactly what he is accusing them of doing.
Schmidt’s additional comments were more in line:
The real issue with Huawei lies in the challenge to US leadership it represents: a Chinese company operating on a global stage that is building a better product than its competitors. The answer to Huawei… is to compete by having a product and product line that is as good.”
“I have carried the prejudices about China in my years working with them, that they’re very good at copying things, that they’re very good at organising things, that they throw large numbers of people at it. But they’re not going to do anything new. They’re very, very good at stealing, if you will, our stuff. Those prejudices need to be thrown out.
China’s work on quantum computing is on a par with that of the West, and could even be ahead. China’s going to dominate whether we couple or decouple. They have the resources, they have the money, they have the technology.