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Embassy Row: ‘Shut up,’ he explained

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Chinese ambassador to Canada, in an oblique outburst this week, told the chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to — in effect — put up or "shut up."

Ambassador Zhang Junsai avoided directly addressing Rep. Mike Rogers, but his comments in a Canadian television interview were clearly aimed at the Michigan Republican, whose committee has warned that two major Chinese telecommunication companies are a threat to U.S. national security and should be barred from operating in the United States.

Mr. Zhang blamed a "Cold War mentality" for concerns that the companies, Huawei and ZTE, could be engaged in military or economic espionage.

"I can assure you that our companies working in other countries are strictly doing business according to the local laws," the ambassador told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. over the weekend.

"If you really have the evidence, come [out] with it. If not shut up," he added.

Mr. Zhang claimed that Mr. Rogers' committee failed to prove that the two Chinese companies were conducting espionage or cyberwarfare in other countries where the telecom giants do business.

"Even the United States could not give out evidence," he said.

The House intelligence committee in October issued a report that concluded that the two companies "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence."

The communist Chinese government could "shut down or degrade critical national security systems in a time of crisis or war" by instructing the companies to insert malicious computer software or hardware into products for the U.S. market, the report says.

Mr. Rogers has said he is worried that the companies could infect U.S. computer networks with a "bug, beacon or back door."

Executives of both companies who testified before the committee insisted that their companies had no ties to the Chinese government and that their only purpose is to do business.

Mr. Rogers said the executives failed to cooperate fully with the committee investigation.

On Tuesday, Mr. Rogers noted that the investigation uncovered "credible evidence of potentially serious criminal violations of U.S. law that have been referred to the Justice Department and other agencies for further investigation."

"Although the Committee cannot disclose classified material supporting the Committee's concerns, the report explains many reasons why these companies simply cannot be trusted to build infrastructure on which every American depends," he said in an email to Embassy Row.

In his interview in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Mr. Zhang tried to calm concerns about a proposed $15 billion sale of Canada's Nexen Inc. oil and gas company to the China's state-owned oil corporation.

"We're not here to grab your resources," Mr. Zhang said. "We're here to participate."

WARNING UKRAINE

The U.S. ambassador for women's issues accused Ukrainian authorities of ignoring the rule of law by imprisoning the country's first female prime minister on charges many Western officials have denounced as politically motivated.

Yulia Tymoshenko was "thrown into prison, ignoring [legal] procedures that had to be observed," Melanne S. Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, told the Ukrainian newspaper Dzerkalo Tyzhnia on a visit this month to the former Soviet republic.

In October 2011, a Kiev court sentenced Mrs. Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for abusing her power as prime minister by brokering an energy deal with Russia in 2009.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, a popular Ukrainian nationalist, faced prosecution after losing the 2010 presidential election to Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Moscow leader.

In her newspaper interview, Mrs. Verveer also criticized Ukraine's Oct. 28 parliamentary elections, won by Mr. Yanukovych's political party.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored he elections, also cited the vote for failing to meet democratic standards.

"I think Ukraine deserves better," Mrs. Verveer said. "This is a country with unlimited potential."

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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