By Mia Kok, Kamalanathan Rajenthiran and Franklin Lam

Three former journalists have warned of US-China dispute over China’s confiscated digital data held by Swiss telecom giant Huawei to be handled in a strategically opaque manner.

Jini Liu, Senior Programme Manager at Amnesty International Asia Pacific, spoke to BBC World Service’s Readings programme.

“If the companies have not cooperated in the first place, that’s not good for them, but it’s also not good for us.

“It does raise concerns about this kind of ‘hostage diplomacy’. But this whole case is not that easy.”

Huawei has insisted that the devices do not contain any secure military technology and promised to respond to the concerns raised by the US and its allies.

After all, the US and Australia have also banned the use of Huawei technology in their next generation 5G telecommunications networks, saying the equipment could expose their citizens to security risks.

The European Union, Japan and Canada have not adopted similar bans.

“It’s complicated and there is a lot of uncertainty,” adds Ms Liu.

In order to boost security, most governments have required Huawei equipment to be provided with “keys” and software “backdoors” which can in theory be used by governments to access the data when it leaves the devices.

Experts claim the technology is not secure enough in every country to be use in communications networks.

China, meanwhile, says the US claims are “illogical”, while Huawei argues it has full compliance with worldwide cryptographic, encryption and lawful interception standards.

These concerns have not prevented countries such as Canada and the UK from exploring links with Huawei.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre also says it is “potentially concerned” that Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing to spy on UK users.

However, UK security experts have stressed that their study was focused on the recently announced 5G networks and does not take into account the concerns raised by the US and other countries about the use of encryption by Chinese government.

Meanwhile, a Chinese court has handed a suspended jail sentence to the former executive Meng Wanzhou, who is the mother of Mr Dass-Lien.

She is expected to appeal against her sentence and fears the decision on her extradition could influence her appeal.

Readings programme, BBC World Service, 8 July, noon GMT

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