Former Alphabet Chief Executive Eric Schmidt has warned that Huawei poses a challenge to national security and that the Chinese company has carried out “unacceptable practices” in a recent interview with the BBC.
After leaving his position as CEO at Google’s parent company, Schmidt now chairs the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board.
In a BBC Radio 4 documentary, he says there is no doubt that information from Huawei routers has ended up in the hands of the Chinese government.
However, the head of Huawei in the United Kingdom, Victor Zhang refuted his allegations in a statement to the BBC, saying:
The allegations made by Eric Schmidt, who now works for the United States government, are simply not true and, as in the past, are not supported by evidence. Huawei is independent from any government, including the Chinese government.
In the interview, Eric Schmidt also explained that Huawei poses a challenge to the leadership of the United States, since it is a Chinese company that operates on the world stage but is manufacturing better products than its competitors.
Schmidt believes that the answer to Huawei’s dominance in the tech sector is to encourage more competition in the field.
He also revealed that he underestimated China’s ability to innovate during his Silicon Valley career:
I have carried prejudice about China in the years that I have worked with them. That they are very good at copying things, that they are very good at organizing things, that they put a large number of people with it. But they are not going to do anything new. They are very, very good at stealing, if you want, our things.
Those prejudices must be discarded. The Chinese are as good, and perhaps better, in key areas of research and innovation as the West.
They are putting more money into it. They are putting it in a different way, it is run by the state in a different way than in the West. We have to take over the competition
To better compete with China, Schmidt believes that the West must invest more in research funding, foster collaboration between the private sector, the state and academia, and remain open to the best talent from around the world.