Just as Mitt Romney’s record with Bain Capital has become a problem for his campaign, Rick Perry will likely have to contend with questions over his involvement with the controversial Chinese technology company Huawei.
As governor, Perry wooed the Chinese firm for months before it finally decided to open its U.S.-based corporate headquarters in Texas, helping to create hundreds of new jobs in the state.
The problem is that the company had previously come under fire for its reportedly cozy relationship with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, its allegedly abusive labor practices and the cybersecurity threat that it posed to the U.S. and Europe.
And now those cybersecurity concerns are back in the news, which could create some problems for Perry. Eli Lake reports that a new contract between Huawei and a U.S. military research center has prompted members of congress to call for an electronic espionage investigation:
The concerns are based on a contract reached this summer between a
computer-technology firm and the National Center for Computational
Engineering at the University of Tennessee, whose supercomputers
simulate flight tests for next-generation U.S. military aircraft and
spacecraft, and simulate submarine warfare for the Navy.
The storage system for the contract calls for using software from U.S.
cybersecurity firm Symantec installed over devices made by Huawei
Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications giant that U.S. officials
have said has close ties to China’s military. Huawei and Symantec
formed a joint venture in 2008, with Huawei owning 51 percent of the
shares of the enterprise.
The letter, signed by Sens. Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, James Inhofe, and Rep. Sue Myrick, also suggests that trade actions should be taken against Huawei. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
As Huawei continues to increase its share of the global market, the U.S. government has not yet pursued trade actions against Huawei for the massive support it enjoys from the government of the PRC. However, if Huawei ‘ s government support and artificially low prices appear to be the company’ s lynchpin for expanding its footprint in the United States, then our nation will have no choice but to seek appropriate trade remedies. …
Given Huawei’ s close ties to the PRC government and its military and intelligence sectors, its history of alleged corrupt practices and infringement on intellectual property rights, and concerns it may act as an agent for a foreign government, Huawei is not an appropriate partner for advanced U.S. research centers – especially those working on critical or classified defense projects for the United States government.
Perry’s association with this company — and the fact that he invited them to Texas despite the security risk — do raise questions about his judgment. And if an investigation turns up any instances of espionage or attempted espionage, that could be disastrous for the Perry campaign.