U.S. Worried About NSA-Style Chinese Spying in Korea

The U.S. government is worried that Chinese telecom firm Huawei is entering Korea's wireless market because that could facilitate the Chinese government's wiretapping of Korea.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said, "The Obama administration is privately raising concerns with officials in [Korea] about their plans to let a Chinese telecommunications giant develop the country's advanced wireless network, expanding a quiet campaign to warn key allies against integrating the Chinese technology into their systems."

"U.S. officials said they are particularly concerned about close security partners integrating Huawei into their national telecommunications systems, especially when U.S. troops are based there," the paper added.

Huawei has 150,000 staff in 140 countries and is world's second largest telecom company. It was chosen as the supplier for the 2.6 GHz broadband LTE network for LG Uplus, Korea's third largest mobile network operator, in October last year. It is Huawei's first project of the kind in Korea. This already created some debate over security concerns here at the time.

But Science Minister Choi Moon-ki told a parliamentary audit that the government cannot stop the private sector from signing a contract with Huawei.

As recent leaks reveal, the U.S. is energetically snooping on friend and foe through compliant telecom providers, and it is therefore especially alive to potential intrusion from others and has banned Huawei from supplying equipment to U.S. telecoms since 2011. Australia also excluded Huawei from telecom projects last year, reportedly under U.S. pressure.

Huawei and LG Uplus both denied any security concerns. A spokesman at Huwaei said the U.S.' concerns are baseless, and that Huawei's LTE equipment is globally trusted and used by 45 major telecoms around the world, including Vodafone and British Telecom.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 05, 2013 14:40 KST