June 14, 2019 12:48
U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris said in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo that he does not agree with Cheong Wa Dae's stance that Huawei communications equipment "has no effect" on the security of military networks. Harris added that buying equipment from a company like Huawei that is controlled by the Chinese government requires rigorous scrutiny. The envoy also criticized Cheong Wa Dae's view that the government should not meddle in private business' decisions to buy whatever equipment they want, advising the presidential office to consider the matter from the perspective of national security.
Last week, Harris said cybersecurity is a key element in protecting the communications networks of allied nations. Professional diplomats usually observe the niceties in commenting on their host country's affairs, but Harris has confronted Cheong Wa Dae three times over the last 10 days. He even warned that Korea's use of Huawei equipment could prompt the U.S. to reconsider the type of intelligence it shares with Seoul.
Other U.S. allies have already fallen in line. Cheong Wa Dae insists there are no security concerns, but experts at a recent seminar said it is really only the manufacturer who is capable of opening or closing backdoor channels in telecom equipment, and that it is possible to legally snoop inside key communication networks.
The government has also put off the full deployment of the U.S.' Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense batteries for more than two years because the previous administration skipped a mandatory environmental impact study in its eagerness to oblige its ally. But in reality the Moon Jae-in administration is afraid of upsetting China, which is leaning on it from the other side. That is also why it has been so quick to reject U.S. concerns over Huawei. No wonder the U.S. is doubting the strength of the alliance and its ambassador is barking at Cheong Wa Dae.
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