The US and Poland on Monday signed an agreement to cooperate on new 5G technology as concerns grow about Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為).
US Vice President Mike Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed the deal in Warsaw, where Pence is filling in for US President Donald Trump, who scrapped his trip at the last minute because of Hurricane Dorian.
The signing comes during a global dispute between the US and Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of network infrastructure equipment, over network security and fears of Chinese access.
“Protecting these next generation communications networks from disruption or manipulation and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the United States, Poland, and other countries is of vital importance,” the statement said.
Both nations pledged to endorse the principles developed by cybersecurity officials from dozens of countries at a summit in Prague this year to counter threats and ensure the safety of the next generation of mobile networks.
Pence, speaking at a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, said that he hoped the declaration would set a “vital example for the rest of Europe on the broader question of 5G.”
The US has been lobbying allies to ban Huawei from 5G networks over concerns the Chinese government could force the company to give it access to data for cyberespionage.
Huawei has denied the allegation and states in Europe — where nations are gearing up to deploy the new networks, starting with the auction of radio frequencies this year — have balked at US calls for an outright ban.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, cited Huawei by name later on Monday in a statement that called on other nations to “ensure that only trusted providers have access to their developing networks.”
“We recognize 5G networks will only be as strong as their weakest link,” Short said. “We must stand together to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from using subsidiaries like Huawei to gather intelligence while supporting China’s military and state security services — with our technology.”
At the news conference, Duda was asked whether the US had ever provided Poland with evidence of Chinese spying using Huawei technology.
He did not mention the US in his answer, but said: “Indeed, Poland’s counterintelligence has detected activity that could be of espionage nature” and that prosecutors are investigating.
A Chinese businessman who served as Huawei’s sales director in Poland and a Pole who cooperated with the government on security measures were arrested in Poland in January on suspicion of espionage.
Separately, Huawei on Tuesday denied accusations reported in the Wall Street Journal that it stole technology from a Portuguese inventor, accusing him of “taking advantage of the current geopolitical situation.”
The US Department of Justice is looking into the claim, potentially adding to existing criminal cases against Huawei, the Journal reported last week.
Portuguese inventor Rui Pedro Oliveira claimed that Huawei met him and then essentially ripped off one of his designs to produce the Huawei EnVizion 360 panoramic camera.
Huawei admitted meeting with Oliveira in 2014, but insisted that its EnVizion 360 camera was “independently designed and developed by Huawei’s employees having no access to Mr Oliveira’s information.”
“These allegations are false,” Huawei said in a statement in which it “categorically rejects Mr Oliveira’s claims of patent infringement.”
“For the past several months, the US government has been leveraging its political and diplomatic influence to lobby other governments to ban Huawei equipment. Furthermore, it has been using every tool at its disposal — including both judicial and administrative powers, as well as a host of other unscrupulous means — to disrupt the normal business operations of Huawei and its partners,” the Chinese company said. It said “Oliveira proceeded to feed a false narrative to the media in an attempt to tarnish Huawei’s reputation. He made further efforts to exert pressure on Huawei through senior government officials, trying to make the company cede to his demands and hand over large sums of money.”
Additional reporting by AFP
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