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Huawei sacks Chinese employee accused of spying in Poland

13 January 2019

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has sacked a Polish employee accused by the country's security services of spying.

The arrested employee is the Chinese citizen Weijing W., who is said to have worked for the Chinese secret service.

This would seem to back up USA accusations that Huawei has working closely with Chinese intelligence.

China and the company itself deny this.

Geopolitical tensions over Huawei intensified after its chief financial officer, who is the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested December 1 in Canada in connection with US accusations that the company violated restrictions on sales of American technology to Iran.

Poland's cyber-security chief, Karol Okonski, told RMF Radio that ideally the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would be "as consistent as possible" on Huawei.

While China's government has vociferously defended Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and demanded her release, the firm swiftly sacked Wang, who works at its representative office in Poland.

A Huawei representative said the company was looking into the matter and declined to comment further.

"In accordance with the terms and conditions of Huawei's labour contract, we have made this decision because the incident in question has brought Huawei into disrepute", it said.

It said that the pair had been charged under Polish laws relating to espionage and Polish state news agency PAP said that they would be detained for three months.

Earlier this week, Polish security agents searched the Warsaw offices of Huawei and Orange, Poland's leading communications provider, seizing documents and electronic data.

In response to the searches and arrests, Huawei stated that the company will investigate the allegations and that it expects every employee to comply with local law.

Huawei NZ deputy managing director Andrew Bowater says it still hasn't been able to discuss the GCSB's concerns directly with the spy agency.

The tech company has been a focal point of worldwide scrutiny, with several countries raising security concerns about its products.

The Czech cybersecurity agency said that Chinese laws "force private companies with their headquarters in China to cooperate with intelligence services", which could make them "a threat" if involved with a country's key technology.

Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei-a former officer at China's People's Liberation Army-has been cited as a security risk in intelligence circles due to having close ties to the Chinese communist regime.

As a result, critics argue China may be using Huawei as a proxy to help hack attacks, eavesdrop on conversations or gain high-level access to sensitive networks.

New Zealand, Australia and the USA have barred Huawei from involvement in their next-generation 5G mobile networks.

The company has attracted even greater scrutiny following the arrest of its chief financial officer last month in Canada.

During his time at Huawei, he attempted to create a favourable reputation for the Chinese company in Canada and to dispel worries that it is closely connected to the Chinese government.

Huawei sacks Chinese employee accused of spying in Poland