Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt says there's 'no question' Huawei endangered US national security

By Isobel Asher Hamilton

Google's former CEO Eric Schmidt thinks China has used tech giant Huawei to spy on the the US.

Speaking on a BBC radio documentary due to be aired Friday, Schmidt said: "There's no question that Huawei has engaged in some practices that are not acceptable in national security.

"There's no question that information from Huawei routers has ultimately ended up in hands that would appear to be the state," he said, adding that "however that happened, we're sure it happened."

Schmidt, a technical advisor on the US government's Defense Innovation Board, likened the company to national spying agencies such as the NSA by saying its operations are a form of "signals intelligence."

Schmidt was Google's CEO from 2001 to 2010, but stayed on at the company as an advisor until February this year, when he took up government roles.

Huawei's UK chief Victor Zhang said Schmidt's claims were "simply not true."

"Huawei is a private company, 100% owned by its employees. Huawei is independent from any government, including the Chinese government," he told the BBC.

Huawei has repeatedly denied accusations from the US government that it is used as a spying proxy by the Chinese government. Accusations that it's a national security threat are part of a US political strategy in its trade war with China, it says. The Trump administration placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May 2019, but the company has been granted multiple temporary licenses since then. 

A week after Trump blacklisted Huawei, he said the company could make up part of a trade deal. In an excerpt from an upcoming new book, Trump's former national security advisor John Bolton says Huawei formed part of Trump's strategy to strike a trade deal and secure re-election.