Huawei logo in front of US and EU flags

US Ambassador warns Europeans not to support Huawei

Image credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The US Ambassador to the EU has warned Europeans against purchasing Huawei products, stating that there is considerable classified evidence of security breaches by the company.

US prosecutors recently revealed 23 criminal indictments against Huawei, its subsidiaries and a senior executive. Huawei is accused of violating trade sanctions against Iran, bank fraud, and theft of trade secrets, among other charges. Now, hotels magnate and recently-confirmed US envoy Gordon Sondland has become the latest US official to publicly condemn the company, sharing his opinions with Reuters ahead of an event in Brussels.

“The US is very supportive of the discouraging the purchase of any Chinese digital products that involve potential national security implications and steering people away from Huawei into Western products is our desired outcome,” he said.

Sondland added that there was “a lot of evidence, most of it classified” proving that Huawei had been involved in security breaches.

Shenzhen-based Huawei – the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment – has increasingly been under fire by US allies in the past months, amid accusations of aiding surveillance on behalf of the Chinese government. These security concerns have motivated the governments of several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Czech Republic, to block Huawei from providing telecommunications equipment for their 5G infrastructures and other major projects. In December 2018, BT began removing Huawei equipment from its 4G infrastructure and in January, a Chinese Huawei employee was arrested in Poland under suspicion of espionage.

More recently, Reuters revealed that the European Commission – the executive arm of the EU – has been considering early proposals which could lead to a de facto ban on Huawei equipment in European 5G infrastructure.

According to four senior EU officials, Huawei could be blocked from the next-generation wireless network by amending a 2016 cybersecurity law which requires companies working on critical infrastructure to take appropriate security measures. Redefining “critical infrastructure” to include 5G mobile networks could effectively prevent European businesses from working with Huawei to build these networks. Other amendments to prevent Huawei’s involvement could include alterations to procurement rules, the anonymous officials said.

The officials stated that these changes would not be specifically targeting Huawei, but that discussions were prompted by broader security concerns about Chinese companies.

Huawei has repeatedly rejected claims that it is involved in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government, and that the company has a “clean track record on cybersecurity”.

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