WASHINGTON Dec 3 The heads of two U.S. Senate
committees that oversee national security have expressed concern
to the Obama administration over news reports that China's
Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has been chosen to build a
nationwide wireless network in South Korea.
According to press reports, Huawei has been selected as a
subcontractor for LG U+ - a Korean subsidiary of LG Corp
- in its plans to build a nationwide broadband
network in South Korea.
Democratic Senators Robert Menendez, the chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Dianne Feinstein,
chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the
reports raised concerns in light of the close security alliance
between the United States and South Korea.
"Maintaining the integrity of telecommunications
infrastructure is critical to the operational effectiveness of
this important security alliance," they said in a letter to
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry
and James Clapper, President Barack Obama's Director of National
The letter, dated Nov. 27, was obtained by Reuters on
Tuesday. Vice President Joe Biden left on Sunday on a trip to
Asia to include stops in China and South Korea, as well as
Japan, during which the issue could come up.
The letter underscored how intertwined the communications
industry has become with concerns about security.
Last year the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released a
report urging U.S. telecommunications companies not to do
business with Huawei and its local rival ZTE Corp
because it said potential Chinese state influence on the
companies posed a security threat.
Both Chinese companies have denied that they have links to
the Chinese government.
Menendez and Feinstein said they were "very interested" to
receive the administration officials' assessment of "potential
threats and security concerns" about Huawei's involvement, as
well as any discussions the U.S. government has had with the
South Korean government about the importance of network
integrity related to the decision.
A senior administration official declined to discuss details
of diplomatic discussions involving Seoul, but added, "We do
have concerns about Huawei."
The official noted that Huawei was excluded in October 2011
from taking part in the building of a U.S. wireless emergency
response network due to national security concerns.
Huawei is the world's second-largest telecom equipment
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Steve
Holland, editing by Cynthia Osterman)