Wednesday, 08 July 2020 04:56

DoD listing: Ericsson claims products made by Chinese partner not used in equipment Featured

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DoD listing: Ericsson claims products made by Chinese partner not used in equipment Image by Kurniadi Ilham from Pixabay

Swedish telecommunications equipment vendor Ericsson claims that its products meet relevant requirements set by the Australian Government. The company was responding to a query as to why its partner in China, Panda Electronics, has been placed on a list drawn up by the US Department of Defence and said to contain firms that are either owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

The company was responding to queries from iTWire about why its products should not come under equal suspicion of being used for spying, as products from Huawei are claimed to facilitate. A report in iTWire on Monday pointed out that Huawei was also named on the same list.

"Ericsson's current assessment is that the joint-venture in China is not impacted by the US Department of Defence's recently published list since its operation and purpose are non-military and Ericsson is the majority owner," an Ericsson spokesperson told iTWire.

"Ericsson has processes in place to ensure the development, production, shipping and deployment of its products, solutions and services meet the security, privacy and regulatory requirements of our customers."

And the company added: "The Panda Electronics Group is one of several minority owners to the joint venture and does not supply components to any equipment utilised in Ericsson's equipment, including those supplied to Australian customers."

ericsson

The list released by the Pentagon.

But the DoD appears to have a different view. iTWire's inquiry was: "The Pentagon has listed your partner in China, Panda Electronics Group, as being either owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

"This means that there would be equal suspicion about Ericsson equipment being used for Chinese spying as equipment from Huawei."

The two big telcos in Australia, Telstra and Optus, are both using Ericsson gear to build their 5G networks.

The newspaper Asia Times said the US had named Panda Electronics as being "owned by, controlled by or affiliated with China’s government, military or defense industries”, adding "those tie-ups mean Panda, by at least one degree of separation, is and will be involved with Australia's pending 5G rollout".

It said Ericsson appeared to have a 10% share in China’s 5G buildout, the proportion of 5G base station contracts it won from China Telecom and China Unicom, the country’s dominant mobile providers.

The third big global supplier of 5G gear, Finland's Nokia, also partners with a state-owned entity in China. Known as Nokia Shanghai Bell, it is a joint venture with state-owned China Huaxin Post & Telecommunication. But Nokia's partner was not named on the DoD's list.

The Ericsson operation in China, known as Ericsson Panda, includes as shareholders the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Committee.

The DoD compiled the list under a 1999 law that mandated the creation of a list of Chinese military companies that had operations in the US, including those which are owned or controlled by the People's Liberation Army and provide commercial services, or are involved in manufacture, produce or export.

The list has been made public at a time when the US is frantically campaigning against the use of Huawei's 5G equipment in networks worldwide, claiming that this would open up any country to spying by China. Huawei has strongly denied such claims.

The Ericsson spokesperson said: "Ericsson is a trusted telecommunications vendor and has been supplying telecommunications equipment in Australia for 130 years."

"Ericsson leverages its flexible global supply chain to provide fast and agile supply of our products to meet customer requirements and we constantly adapt production capacity to meet the needs of our Australian customers as part of our global production footprint," the spokesperson added.

"As a global company with business in 180 countries, we always analyse the potential effects of new national legislation or administration orders targeting our industry. If required, we will take measures to comply accordingly."

The Australian Department of Home Affairs was contacted for comment on Monday about the same issues. But in a response, a spokesperson said it would not comment on specific companies.

"Given the importance of 5G networks to Australian society, the security of these networks is paramount," the spokesperson said. "The Australian Government has taken steps to secure Australia's critical networks and infrastructure, in particular Australia's 5G networks."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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