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Tech war propaganda: British MPs grill Huawei executive, compare company to Nazi collaborators

Tech war propaganda: British MPs grill Huawei executive, compare company to Nazi collaborators
The West’s war against Chinese tech giant Huawei was stepped up to absurd levels on Monday as British MPs compared the telecoms manufacturer to the German company which sold lethal gas to the Nazis for use in concentration camps.

Huawei is bidding for contracts to build part of the UK's superfast 5G network — a revelation which caused a stir in April and invited increased scrutiny of the company from MPs. Unsurprisingly, much of British officialdom so far seems eager to follow the lead of the US, which has painted the company as a threat to national security, despite lacking any evidence to justify those concerns.

Huawei’s global cybersecurity and privacy officer, John Suffolk, was probed on Monday by a group of sanctimonious-sounding MPs, demanding to know if the company had moral objections to working with the Chinese government. It quickly became clear that the MPs were using the committee hearing to fire off more shots in the anti-Huawei propaganda war.

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Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, MP Norman Lamb, blasted Suffolk for what he said was Huawei’s “willingness to work with the Chinese government in a province where there are allegedly gross human rights abuses” — a reference to the fact that Huawei technology is used in detention centers where the US claims China is holding up to two million Uyghur Muslims.

But Labour MP Graham Stringer went further, suggesting that Huawei was comparable to the company that manufactured Zyklon B, the deadly gas used in Nazi extermination camps, specifically for the purpose of killing people.

“Do you think when we come to write our report it would be fair to compare your company with IG Farben who manufactured Zyklon B and sold it to the German government during the Second World War?”

Suffolk naturally rejected the extreme comparison, saying that Huawei follows the laws of the countries in which it operates. Conservative MP Julian Lewis branded the Huawei executive himself a “moral vacuum.”

Huawei has been banned from providing 5G infrastructure to the US, but that hasn’t been enough for the Trump administration, which has been pushing for months to have the Chinese company outlawed from working on infrastructure projects all across Europe and working to force it out of the global market.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed the hollowness of the alleged national security concerns this week when he admitted that Huawei could be used as a bargaining chip in Trump's trade war with China. Trump might be “willing to do certain things on Huawei” if he gets what he wants out of a new trade deal with Beijing, he said.

Questions of China’s human rights abuses aside, it is a fairly odd spectacle to see British MPs worry about the morality of Huawei working with a government that has committed human rights abuses. After all, Britain remains bosom-buddies with Saudi Arabia, recognized unquestionably as one of the most oppressive countries in the world.

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Stringer, the holier-than-thou MP who made the Zyklon B comparison, didn’t even bother to show up to vote in 2016 on a motion to end UK support for Riyadh's carpet-bombing campaign in Yemen — a war which has brought millions to the brink of famine and which Britain is directly complicit, selling billions worth of arms to the Saudi kingdom. In fact, Britain’s arms sales to Riyadh has increased dramatically in 2017 and accounts for nearly half of the UK's major arms exports.

“Some reports suggest the Saudi bombing missions [in Yemen] would have to stop within seven to 14 days” if UK support ended, arms trade expert Anna Stavrianakis told Al Jazeera in April.

Britain has also participated in multiple other recent and devastating US-led wars and military interventions, including in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

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