There are concerns over Beijing growing influence in the Asia-Pacific after China-based technology and telecommunications giant Huawei announced it would be investing US$100 million (AUS $136 million) into building up its portfolio of startups in the Asia Pacific.
Huawei Cloud’s Spark Program—which aims to sign up 1,000 startup businesses in the region—has expanded its reach to encompass Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam after already establishing startup hubs across Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand.
“Since its launch in 2017, HUAWEI CLOUD has been the world’s fastest-growing cloud, and has driven the growth of countless startups,” said CEO of Huawei’s Cloud Business Unit, Zhang Ping’an.
“Through this program, we are working with local governments, leading incubators, well-known VC (venture capital) firms, and top universities to build support platforms for startups in many regions.”
The program seeks to grow startup “ecosystems” in the Asia Pacific, injecting businesses or organisations with funding and providing them access to Huawei’s services.
However, Professor of Cyber Security and Director of the RMIT University Centre for Cyber Security, Matthew Warren, warned that Beijing’s heavy influence over Chinese businesses means the move may further the CCP’s control in the region.
“It also directly links to Chinese power projection,” Warren told The Epoch Times in an email.
“Huawei wants to develop an ecosystem across the Asia Pacific that will allow them to generate and own new IP (intellectual property), and an extension of this would be that it would then be owned by China as well.”
Warren also made a note of Beijing’s ability to use Huawei for espionage.
The Chinese tech titan has been banned from installing its telecommunications systems internationally—including in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan—over concerns the organisation will aid in surveillance efforts headed by Beijing.
In particular, startups accepted into the Spark Program will receive “free Cloud resources from Huawei,” as well as hardware support for AI/machine learning and 5G.
This means that organisations will have their data controlled by Huawei and stored in its data centres.
Further, Beijing’s National Intelligence Law states that “all organizations and citizens shall support, assist, and cooperate with national intelligence efforts in accordance with law,” and that “national intelligence work institutions are to use the necessary means, tactics, and channels to carry out intelligence efforts, domestically and abroad.”
But Huawei denied the allegations, quoting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who said it was not consistent with Beijing’s laws.
“This is not how China behaves … we did not do that and will not do that in future,” Keqiang said.
However, Warren disagreed, particularly following international doubt over Beijing’s use of Huawei for espionage.
“Huawei has been running a narrative for a long time that they would not comply with any requests from the Chinese government regarding the National Intelligence Law,” Warren said.
“In my view, this is untrue, and Huawei would share intelligence information with the Chinese government—if they are not doing so already.”