The United States has embarked on a mission to convince European allies not to buy Huawei 5G mobile network equipment, a U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday.
After meetings with the European Commission and the Belgian government in Brussels, U.S. officials are set to take a message to other European capitals that the world’s biggest telecommunications gear maker poses a security risk, said the official, who declined to be named.
“We are saying you need to be very, very cautious and we are urging folks not to rush ahead and sign contracts with untrusted suppliers from countries like China,” the official said.
The United States fears China could use the equipment for espionage – a concern that Huawei Technologies Co. says is unfounded. The push to sideline Huawei in Europe, one of its biggest markets, is likely to deepen trade frictions between Washington and Beijing.
Washington is using “multiple tracks”, the U.S. official said, including talks at the U.S.-led NATO alliance in Brussels and at international conferences in Barcelona and Munich: “Europe is definitely where we see this as the top priority.”
Huawei gear is widely used in Europe but the push is aimed at equipment for the new fifth generation mobile technology, which promises to link up everything from vehicles to factories at far greater speeds.
Meanwhile, the German cabinet will hold a secret session on Wednesday to discuss safeguard measures regarding the possible participation of China’s Huawei Technologies in building Germany’s 5G network, the daily Handelsblatt said, citing government sources.
Wednesday’s meeting will focus on whether a security catalogue, prepared by the Federal Network Agency and the cyber defense agency (BSI), along with certification rules and a no-spy agreement with China, will be enough to ensure future 5G mobile networks are safe, the paper said.
The session, to be held after the regular cabinet meeting, and attended by the German foreign, interior, economy, finance, and transport ministers, will discuss measures proposed last week by Deutsche Telekom to safeguard national security, the paper said.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany needed guarantees that Huawei would not hand over data to the Chinese state before the telecoms equipment supplier can participate in building its 5G network.