Huawei or US: Mike Pompeo issues warning to allies that partner with Chinese firm
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued a stark warning to America’s allies of the risks of using Chinese technology firm Huawei’s equipment in their telecommunications networks, Trend reports referring to South China Morning Post.
“If a country adopts this [Huawei] and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them,” he said in an interview with Fox Business on Thursday.
“In some cases there’s risk – we won’t even be able to co-locate American resources, an American embassy, an American military outpost.”
His comments came after Britain, New Zealand and Italy all signalled this week that there might still be room for Huawei in their 5G infrastructure development plans.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Thursday that he wanted the US to “win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies”.
Pompeo was speaking after a five-day trip to western and central Europe last week, where he visited Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belgium and Iceland.
When asked about the trip, he said the US had shared information about Huawei with countries around the world and, “we think they’ll make good decisions when they understand that risk”.
“We can’t forget these systems were designed … alongside the Chinese PLA, their military in China,” he said. “They are creating a real risk for these countries and their systems, the security of their people.”
Both Huawei and the Chinese government have denied using the company’s telecoms equipment for espionage.
On Wednesday, Huawei’s founder and president Ren Zhengfei told CBS News that it “absolutely never installs back doors”.
“Even if we were required by Chinese law, we would firmly reject that,” he said.
He was possibly referring to the concerns raised by officials in the US and Europe about China’s intelligence law, which requires citizens and companies to cooperate with espionage investigations.
Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Andrus Ansip, the head of the European Commission’s digital single market team, said the Chinese legislation was the reason the European Union was considering conducting a risk assessment of Huawei even though there was no evidence to suggest it had engaged in espionage.
The head of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Ciaran Martin, said at the same event that while the Chinese company was not involved in any of the country’s sensitive networks, Britain had “arguably the toughest and most rigorous oversight regime in the world for Huawei”.
On Monday, an unnamed source from the NCSC told the Financial Times that the risks posed by Huawei were “manageable”.
While some of the United States’ allies have banned Huawei on security grounds – as Australia did in August – others appear to be taking a more open view.
Italy’s undersecretary for economic development Michele Geraci said in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday that while his country was a loyal ally of the US, he did not “see Huawei as an issue”.
A day earlier, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country would independently assess the risk of using the Chinese company’s equipment in its 5G networks.
That statement came after New Zealand’s intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use Huawei products.