On a fall day in 2012, Charles Ding, Huawei’s chief representative in the United States, made his way to Capitol Hill. While most of Washington was consumed with the recent attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, within the Capitol complex, Congressional investigators were zeroing in on another issue. Ding stepped into the wood-paneled hearing room, HVC-210, before the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which was seeking to complete its report following a nearly yearlong national security investigation into Huawei and its compatriot company, ZTE.
He met a hostile audience. Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), as ranking member, immediately raised suspicions about Huawei’s country of origin, China, “a country known to aggressively conducts [sic] cyber espionage. And add to that…the fear that China, a communist country, could compel these companies to provide it information or worse yet spy on Americans using this equipment.” After experiencing a series of evasive responses, Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) expressed frustration: “We hope that this hearing finally gives us the opportunity to get fulsome answers and resolve these doubts about your companies.”