Former executive chairman of Alphabet, Eric Schmidt has warned that Huawei poses challenges to national security and that the Chinese firm has engaged in “unacceptable practices”, in a recent interview with the BBC.
After stepping down from his position of executive chairman at Google’s parent company, Schmidt now chairs the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board.
In a BBC Radio 4 documentary, he claimed that information from Huawei routers has ended up in the hands of the Chinese government. However, Huawei’s UK chief, Victor Zhang refuted his allegations in a statement to the BBC, saying:
“The allegations made by Eric Schmidt, who now works for the US government, are simply not true and as with similar assertions in the past, are not backed by evidence. Huawei is independent from any government, including the Chinese government.”
Challenge to US leadership
In the interview, Eric Schmidt also explained that Huawei poses a challenge to US leadership as it is a Chinese company that operates on the global stage but is building better products than its competitors. He believes that the answer to Huawei’s dominance in the tech sector is to encourage more competition in the field.
Schmidt also revealed that he underestimated China’s ability to innovate during his career in Silicon Valley, saying:
“I have carried the prejudices about China in my years working with them. That they’re very good at copying things, that they’re very good at organising things, that they throw large numbers of people at it. But they’re not going to do anything new. They’re very, very good at stealing, if you will, our stuff. Those prejudices need to be thrown out. The Chinese are just as good, and maybe better, in key areas of research and innovation as the West.”
In order to better compete against China, Schmidt believes that the West needs to invest more in research funding, encourage collaboration between the private sector, state and academia and remain open to the best talent from around the world.