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A Huawei bid turned into a hunt for a corporate mole (bloomberg.com)
108 points by NicoJuicy 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 67 comments

Wow, i'd heard general political complaints about Huawei but never stuff like this:

"The day the TDC team set up in Plesner’s offices, the law firm’s IT systems came under a denial-of-service hacking attack."

"At 12:20 a.m. on March 20, a security guard patrolling the Plesner offices noticed lights floating outside the 15th-floor room where TDC’s team had been working. Peering into the glare, he saw a large drone. For 10 minutes it remained there, flying up, down and sideways. Then it descended out of sight. Upon learning of the incident the following morning, the TDC investigators realized they’d failed to close the shades in the office. There was a wall-size whiteboard facing the windows on which they’d been tracing all of their leads, and it would have been in full view."

Makes it much more clear why there was so much saber-rattling about them.

Huawei also greatly benefited from Chinese espionage targeting Nortel, which was Canada's premiere tech company at the time.

There were rumours ~10 years ago that a planned repurposing of a Nortel complex to government offices was cancelled because the buildings were found to be riddled with (presumably Huawei) bugs.

It was delayed at least. National Defense Headquarters was moved into the Nortel Campus in 2017 or so.

It would be very easy for them to pull it off vs the other way around. So many Chinese people work in Canada. But practically no western people work in China.

And that's because of China being afraid of what they are doing abroad.

As someone who worked in both China and Canada over the last decade, I'm surprised that we didn't hear more or it from the Canadian side.

I am not a lawyer, but surely there are legal consequences to utilising intellectual properties obtained via illegitimate means, any legal specialists here?

In the Chinese justice system? For a high profile company like Huawei? Not likely.

Also Huawei’s ownership structure is notoriously opaque

Yes I was surprised they didn't mention the Northern Telecom part in the article.

This is a claim that emerged a decade after Nortel collapsed, but it makes no sense.

First, recall that Nortel collapsed because of its own bad investments during the Dot Com Bubble, followed by an accounting scandal.

Second, Huawei was barely even on the scene yet when Nortel collapsed. Huawei was still operating almost entirely inside China at the time. It wasn't Nortel's major competitor.

This is what "wolf cult" i mean "culture" get you I guess :(

There is another story from ancient times tells the tale about two big telecom company in China stealing or damaging each other's production equipment/infrastructures installed on the streets... knowing that, the act of photographing your whiteboard with drone suddenly sounded well within the realm of possible things that could happen.

If anyone else is confused about the "wolf cult[ure]" reference: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/technology/huawei-workers...

Wolf Warrior - International Influence : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Warrior#International_inf...

China's aggressive 'Wolf Warrior Diplomacy' : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_warrior_diplomacy

BRB going to turn my commercial drone license into a ChatGPT-enabled corporate-espionage-as-a-service.

That's some James Bond sh*t right there!

What kind of amateur doesn’t camouflage the clandestine drone lights. Those things are blindingly bright

Maybe they needed to illuminate the whiteboard through the window.

IIRC obscuring drone lights is against the Danish Civil Aviation laws.

and of course Huawei would never do anything that violates Danish Civil Aviation laws!

"Only break one law at a time"

I'm no fan of China or Huawei (quite the opposite in fact), but I'd like to pause and inject a dose of skepticism into the conversation.

Bloomberg's previous piece about China installing tiny chips onto server hardware to spy on tech giants was called out as a big lie:

- https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-10-04/the-big-h...

- https://siliconangle.com/2018/10/22/apple-amazon-super-micro...

Now we have a similarly sensational story about China coming from them. Should we trust them? Or is this just another small skirmish in the larger information war being waged between USA vs China around the world right now. A war where truth was the first casualty.

Well we know that Huawei fully stole Nortel’s IP as well as Cisco’s software. So it’s not exactly a squeaky clean company.

China and Huawei are extremely sketchy and have committed all sorts of corruption and theft. They deserve to be viewed with suspicion and sanctioned.

That doesn’t make this story true though. Particularly when you consider how discredited this particular journalist’s previous story about China was.

(from another comment)

TDC has stated to Danish media that they "recognize parts of the story" but have refused to elaborate. They haven't wished to refute any parts either.


in contrast, the Supermicro story was strongly and vehemently denied by all players - not just refusals to comment, but CEOs outright saying that the story was false. the reaction this time is more in line with the story being accurate.

What does Supermicro have to do with this? That "story" wasn't really credible from the start.

This is about a goal oriented Chinese spy op in Denmark related to 5G.

We don't actually know that about Nortel. It's rumored that someone broke into Nortel's internal networks, but there's nothing to say it was Huawei. This also had nothing to do with Nortel's collapse, which was caused by its own massive failings.

The Cisco software issue was pretty minor, and was settled almost 20 years ago.

You can look at some cards from a Nortel OME 6500 (Nortel's flagship product at the time) and a Huawei OptiX OSN 9500 and see a familial resemblance that does not exist between cards from Nortel/Ciena and their US/EU/IL competitors...

Nobody commenting on this article has blamed Huawei for Nortel's collapse yet you keep bringing up that it wasn't Huawei's fault. Why is that?

Because that's the standard claim that's made, usually as a justification for driving Huawei out of business using sanctions.

The systemic theft of IP from the China government and corporations is not deniable.

There are countless examples not just from the US but EU, Australia, Canada etc.

This is from Bloomberg Businessweek? They still haven't retracted the sensationalist story about SuperMicro and Amazon and secret Chinese spy chips, right?

Take these claims with a huge grain of salt.

It's even the same journalist as the previous sensationalist story: Jordan Robertson.

- https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-10-04/the-big-h...

- https://siliconangle.com/2018/10/22/apple-amazon-super-micro...

Something smells fishy.

TDC has stated to Danish media that they "recognize parts of the story" but have refused to elaborate. They haven't wished to refute any parts either.


I used to work for Motorola. Even back in the 2000s we were extremely cautious around Huawei. I recall it being pretty standard that any important meetings while overseas and near Huawei folks would always take place in the middle of the hotel pool.

China really is the single greatest threat to global peace and freedom. What they cannot buy, they steal, and what they cannot steal, they threaten and intimidate. IP theft is just the tip of the iceberg, don't forget Chinese police stations in western countries, and infiltration through universities. There is enough, reasonable, logical, and very well investigated information that points to China as a serious bad actor. A clear and present danger to global security.

See this: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/counterintelligence/the-chin...

"At the same time, the Chinese government is seeking to become the world’s greatest superpower through predatory lending and business practices, systematic theft of intellectual property, and brazen cyber intrusions."

And just recently:


"South Korean prosecutors have arrested and indicted a former executive of Samsung Electronics suspected of stealing trade secrets while attempting to establish a copycat computer chip plant in China."

There are literally hundreds of articles like this - and it's been going on for decades. But the behavior alleged in this article seems even more blatent and aggressive than the past, and perhaps a foreshadowing of what is to come in the near future.

I know speaking in abstract or on a high level is difficult, but I believe whenever we speak of the actions of the government of China and aligned businesses as ‘China’ we strengthen a narrative that they use of clash of civilisations, that legitimises them as ‘China’ and anyone in China opposed to them as ‘foreign backed subversives’

Only if we allow them to be.

If liberal western (and I mean liberal not "liberal") democracies stop our appeasement policies things will improve.

This sort of anti-Chinese hysteria is really getting out of hand.

China has been very reserved on the international scene in the last 40 years or so. It hasn't fought any foreign wars, and it's been mostly focused on its own internal economic development. That development has also brought enormous wealth to the United States and other developed countries, which have been able to access (previously cheap) Chinese labor and the rapidly growing Chinese market. Much of the modern American way of life over the last few decades would have been impossible without the economic development of China.

Since Trump came into office, there has been an incredible swing in American public opinion on China. China is now to blame for everything, an embodiment of pure evil, lurking around every corner. Maybe China is in the room with us right now.

It's sad to see this attitude spilling over into HN. The tech industry is incredibly international (and Chinese engineers make a major contribution to the US tech industry), and not only does the increasing animosity go against the open spirit of tech culture, but it will severely damage the industry in the long run as international barriers go up.

hmm.. every country capable of doing this does this. Does not make it right.. but singling out china is just drinking too much of kool aid.

China should be made an example of

Maybe the biggest offender should be made an example of??

Yeah. China. The difference with China is that it's a deliberate coordinated plan from a single entity; the Chinese government. Essentially they're one mega-monopoly with incredible power without even a whiff of altruism.

Really? You can't think of any other country that might have started tons of wars and be a "threat to global freedom"? Maybe even a greater offender than China (who did they invade in last 50 years again? forgot)

Snowden used to work for that single entity too …

Yeah, they are the ones with hundreds military bases all over the world, constantly invading/bombing other nations, staging coups, sponsoring terr^H^H^H freedom fighters...

The US has military bases in countries that have agreed to host them, and in many cases even asked for them. Meanwhile China hasn't got permission for the secret police stations it's been setting up around the world.

China and the US both understand how to acquire power by carrying a big stick. The difference is that the US also knows how to speak softly to retain it. That's why the US projects power with cooperation and diplomacy, while China relies on coercion and deceit.

Sure, US speaks softly at first, and when they don't get what they asked for, then they pull that big stick. Now, you may think that's nice behavior but that's because you didn't end up on the receiving end of that stick. But there's still hope as it looks like you don't condone similar behavior when it comes from someone else besides US.

Is this true? I just don't know how to verify this information. What reliable sources can I read to lead to such a conclusion?

No, it's not. Counterexamples are easy to find.

Everyone has heard of Guantanamo Bay. The Cuban government isn't happy about the presence of a US military base on their territory.

You have conveniently avoided invasions, bombings etc.

Give it 30 years.

First comes military parity.

Then come politicians who think it'd be a grand idea to use that to drive more favorable bargains.

Then come politicians who figure it'd be better off if they just controlled the whole thing.

Every close to sea neighbor ( and further) of China is actually threatened by China and as such, maintains US relations.

The core problem in this case is China. Not someone willing to help because there is a clear problem with China.

Why is the parent comment being downvotted? US has indeed been a huge problem for many countries around the world


Can we please keep the “you’re a paid bot” accusations on Reddit? I love reading contrarian comments on HN, even if they might be a little controversial. Accusing people of that will just make legitimate users shy away from posting opposing views lest they be called a shill. It’s also against the HN guidelines:

“Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents, and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken. If you're worried about abuse, email hn@ycombinator.com and we'll look at the data.”


Pointing out forum manipulation doesnt degrade discussions nearly as much as the forum manipulation itself.

Its an extremely serious issue and we should be able to discuss it.

My apologies. Though it was in jest, you’re right and doesn’t add to the discussion.

Do you get extra karma for ad hominem?

While I don't want to defend the chinese government. I would like to point to the history of the US of extensive proxy wars, spying campaigns against supposed allies (and this was going on for years before the German spying became public, i.e. Echolon and how Boening seem to have manage to just undercut airbus bits for some time), pressuring allies to change (or even break their own) laws for US cooperate interest (e.g. the saga around Pirate Bay in Sweden). Or the cases of abductions into dark prisons for torture. What is most interesting around this is the outrage about the Chinese spying and the complete absence of consequences for the ones aiding the US efforts (the 2 guys in Denmark are being in court for leaking details of the investigation, while nobody is being prosecuted for actually leaking state secrets)

The big difference with the US is that there is a free press, independent judiciary, clear separation between government and corporations and democracy so there are frequent changes of government with different attitudes towards the issues you raise.

China has none of those. And they really do matter.

All of those didn't matter for the million dead Iraqis. They only matter for Americans themselves, not for the victims of America

While I don't want to defend the chinese government

Yes you do. That what butwhataboutism is all about.

Bloomberg reporting on PRC not passing basic smell test once again. Huawei having significantly higher bid than Ericsson should raise some eyebrows. Or Somehow Huawei having the tradecraft to monitor TDC employee teams but alledged TDC mole just goes on casual coffee meeting with Huawei bidder. None of the claims in article links activities to Huawei. What does make sense for why this article exists in context of historic Danish-US security apparatus cooperation that against Danish interests + bloomberg publication bias is this is another planted intelligence hit piece. Like what even is the last bit on random drone landing in van suppose to insinuate. That Huawei is so powerful it has legion of intellgience assets operating opennly in Denmark that has somehow not been prosecuted.

Huawei, and basically every Chinese corporation, should be considered extensions of the communist party as they can be used, willingly or unwilling, for espionage and any other national security purpose the Party compels them to, and they must comply in secret. That’s Chinese national security law.

All speculation aside, this would make for a really great docudrama

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