Recently, as reported by The National Journal (link) and others, Rep. Wolf wrote to a Managing Partner at a D.C. law firm calling on that Partner to drop representation of China-based multinational Huawei, my employer (Please note that the comments in this blog are my personal reflections).
Rep. Wolf's letter rehashes oft-cited, never-substantiated disinformation about Huawei, including purported ties to the Chinese Government, as justification for his request of the law firm. He further cites as some sort of factual basis for his opinion an April 6, 2012 Wall Street Journal article that quoted Cisco CEO John Chambers saying that Huawei is Cisco's "toughest rival" and that Huawei doesn't always "play by the rules."
Among multiple ironies associated with Rep. Wolf's seeming support for Cisco's commercial de-positioning campaign, is the fact that Cisco conducts significant research and development, codes software, builds products and invests billions of dollars annually in China, Chinese-based innovation, and Chinese education and jobs.
There has never been a shred of proof of Huawei having any undue connection to the Chinese Government. Notably, Huawei, which bears some responsibility for having allowed disinformation to fester for the better part of a decade, has since its February 2011 "Open Letter" (link) continually and proactively communicated detailed facts about the company, and has consistently been met with nothing more than unsubstantiated politically- or competitively-inspired myth and innuendo.
But this isn't Rep. Wolf's first run at the company. On March 19, 2012, Wolf made remarks for the Congressional Record (link), yet again undermining his concerns about China-based cyber activities by purporting links between Huawei and the Chinese Government (citing numerous never-substantiated sources, U.S. Government and otherwise), and almost amusingly warning that "U.S. network carriers should not be selling Huawei devices...but if they do, they have an obligation to inform their customers of these threats." Given that virtually every mobile device (and computer, for that matter) is made in China, the carriers are going to have to cede a lot of display space to Rep. Wolf's proposed warning brochures...
Wolf's letter also quotes U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson making fuzzy observations about Huawei, including the quizzical statement: "It appears that Huawei has capabilities that we may not fully detect to divert information." Sadly, Rep. Wolf's letter is too brief to include yet more "fun with facts" from his exchange with the Secretary that took place during a March 20, 2012 Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meeting. So, it seems only fair that we review some highlights (errors are not mine, they come verbatim from the transcript), with comments. I'll ignore all of the tired references to Huawei's "close connections" to Chinese intelligence, given that they are backed with zero substance and fly in the face of well-publicized facts:
WOLF: "...The Wall Street Journal reported that quote, 'Huawei's network business has stride at the expense of struggling Western network companies such as Alcatel, Lucent Company and the Korea's Siemens networks.' The bottom line is that these subsidies are costing American jobs and distorting the global market."
Comment: Ok, this one is easy enough... Yes, competition can have an impact on incumbents. But, the incumbents referenced - based in France and Finland/Germany and both with significant operations in China - have been cutting American jobs and investments in the U.S. for years now while Huawei has been adding thousands of jobs, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. innovation, and procuring billions of dollars worth of goods and services from U.S. based technology companies.
WOLF: "The Chinese government has Catholic bishops on house arrest. The Chinese government's connection to Huawei, the People's Liberation Army, has Protestant pastors -- house Protestant pastors in jail... They have a 2010 Nobel Prize winner, Xiabo in jail. They were not allowed to go to Oslo to pick up the award nor would they let his wife go. Based on the policies of the Chinese government and the People's Liberation Army in connection to Huawei too, we have to keep in mind all the time."
WOLF: "We cannot disregard the fundamental connection that Huawei's doing and that they're connected within the Chinese government and the activities of the Chinese government and lastly, there was a lot of news last week when George Clooney who was (inaudible) went to Sudan. I was in Southern Sudan, in that refugee camp in (Nuba). The Chinese, the People's Liberation Army, connected to Huawei, are putting Chinese rockets that go 100 kilometers that are killing people..."
WOLF: "...I saw that the president met with George Clooney, so there's no breakdown. I think it's important that the White House understand the whole Huawei connection so that this company doesn't hire Washington lawyers and lobbyists and people plugged in to begin to approach the White House to bypass the good work that you're going to be doing with regard to Huawei and go around you by going into the White House because as you can remind the White House, when the president met with George Clooney and that's on this issue. That has connectivity to the whole Huawei issue."
Comment: I am speechless...
To the extent that Rep. Wolf's credibility may have been undermined by his curtsy to Cisco, it seems utterly blown away by the flights of fancy featured in his remarks on the record above. Indeed, one really has to wonder what Secretary Bryson and anyone else in the room must have been thinking as the words spewed forth...