Concerns have been raised about Beijing’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region following the announcement by China-based technology and telecommunications giant Huawei that it would invest US $100 million (AUS $136 million) in expanding its portfolio of startups in the region.
After establishing startup hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand, Huawei Cloud’s Spark Program, which aims to sign up 1,000 startup businesses in the region, has expanded its reach to include Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
“Since its launch in 2017, HUAWEI CLOUD has been the world’s fastest-growing cloud, fueling the growth of countless startups,” said Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Huawei’s Cloud Business Unit.
“Through this program, we are collaborating with local governments, leading incubators, well-known VC (venture capital) firms, and top universities to create support platforms for startups in a variety of regions.”
The program aims to grow startup “ecosystems” in Asia Pacific by providing funding and access to Huawei’s services to businesses and organizations.
However, Matthew Warren, Professor of Cyber Security and Director of the RMIT University Centre for Cyber Security, warned that due to Beijing’s heavy influence over Chinese businesses, the move may strengthen the CCP’s control in the region.
“It is also directly linked to Chinese power projection,” Warren wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.
“Huawei wants to build an ecosystem across Asia Pacific that will allow them to generate and own new IP (intellectual property), and as a result, it will be owned by China as well.”
Warren also mentioned China’s ability to use Huawei for espionage.
The Chinese tech giant has been barred from installing its telecommunications systems in countries around the world, including Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan, due to concerns that the organization will aid in Beijing’s surveillance efforts.
Startups accepted into the Spark Program, in particular, will receive “free Huawei Cloud resources,” as well as hardware support for AI/machine learning and 5G.
This means that Huawei will have control over and store data for organizations in its data centers.
Furthermore, the National Intelligence Law of Beijing states that “all organizations and citizens should support, assist, and cooperate with national intelligence efforts in accordance with the law,” and that “national intelligence institutions are to use the necessary means, tactics, and channels to carry out intelligence efforts, both domestically and abroad.”
However, Huawei denied the allegations, citing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as saying it was not in accordance with Beijing’s laws.
“This is not how China acts… we did not do that and will not do so in the future,” Keqiang said.
Warren, on the other hand, disagreed, particularly in light of international concern about Beijing’s use of Huawei for espionage.
“Huawei has long maintained that they will not comply with any requests from the Chinese government regarding the National Intelligence Law,” Warren said.
“In my opinion, this is false, and Huawei would share intelligence information with the Chinese government if it was not already doing so.”