Who’s Afraid of Huawei?

In this week's CYBER podcast, we spoke to VICE News reporter William Turton, who just spent a week in China as part of a bizzarre Huawei junket.

Last December, Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei. Wanzhou was arrested at the request of the US, which claims the company was making illegal business deals with Iran, skirting sanctions. It wasn’t the first time Huawei came under international fire: For years the US and its allies have been sounding the alarm on Huawei technologies having backdoors for Chinese government spying.


Huawei plays a key role in the race between China and the US to build 5G network infrastructure, which some have labeled a burgeoning ‘Digital Cold War’ in the making. President Trump even suggested he would be open to making a deal for Wanzhou if it helped the US win the overall trade war against China.

The Department of Justice recently indicted Huawei for stealing plans for a robot arm called “Tappy” from T-Mobile. In other words, like many Chinese companies in the last decade, such as the alleged theft of everything from the F-35 fighter jet designs to the recipe for Benjamin Moore paint—Huawei had been accused of stealing intellectual property from an American competitor.

VICE News reporter William Turton just went to China to learn more about Huawei. Apparently, the company is trying to get western reporters to see just how amazing and friendly the company actually is. What ensued was, as Turton described on this week’s episode of CYBER, “super weird.”

From luxury hotels and copycat Apple stores to blatant surveillance details photographing him, Turton gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his reporting on one of the world’s biggest and most controversial tech companies.

Like the show? Follow host Ben Makuch on Twitter @BMakuch and William Turton @WilliamTurton for more cybersecurity news.