The chairman of a Chinese company lashed out at U.S. lawmakers after they told universities receiving funding from the firm that it poses a significant national security threat.
Eric Xu, chairman of Huawei, responded to an open letter penned by a bipartisan group of congressmen that said the company, due to its close relationship with the Chinese government, is “China’s toolkit for foreign technology acquisition.”
Xu called the lawmakers “closed-minded and ill-informed,” Reuters reported Thursday. He added: “It seems that their bodies are in the information age but their minds are still in the agrarian age.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana sent the letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on June 20 on behalf of 24 Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Huawei is funding a research program at 50 U.S. universities to innovate and advance communication technology, computer sciences, engineering and other related areas. The lawmakers’ letter does not call for them to cut funding or for the Education Department to block it.
Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese company, have been at the center of a growing debate over whether the U.S. should allow the sale of Chinese telecommunications products. Both companies were considered national security threats by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2012.
“Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems,” the 2012 report stated. (RELATED: Chinese Telecom Company Denies It’s Controlled By Beijing Again)
“Our intelligence community has warned about this exact type of national security threat for over a decade,” Banks said in a statement. “Huawei is a state-directed entity that uses academic surveillance to spy and collect intelligence on America and our allies. Make no mistake, Huawei cannot be trusted and the Department of Education should work closely with the FBI to address China’s attempts to infiltrate America’s intellectual institutions.”
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