Huawei a Trojan horse and threat to Nato: US top officials

Washington has been pressing European allies hard to ban Huawei, one of the world's largest tech firms, from next-generation mobile data networks, saying it is a security risk.
Washington has been pressing European allies hard to ban Huawei, one of the world's largest tech firms, from next-generation mobile data networks, saying it is a security risk.PHOTO: REUTERS

MUNICH • Top United States officials have fired a fresh broadside at Huawei, warning that the Chinese technology giant would pose a threat to Nato if allies allowed it to build new 5G communications networks.

Washington has been pressing European allies hard to ban Huawei, one of the world's largest tech firms, from next-generation mobile data networks, saying it is a security risk.

A day after Huawei was hit with fresh criminal charges in America, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Munich Security Conference that the company was a "Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence".

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said Huawei was the "poster child" for China's "nefarious strategy" to infiltrate and dominate crucial Western infrastructure.

"If we don't understand the threat and we don't do something about it... it could compromise what is the most successful military alliance in history - Nato," Mr Esper said in Munich yesterday.

Key US allies in Europe, notably Britain and France, have said they will not ban Huawei from building 5G networks - which will permit near-instantaneous data transfers - but will impose restrictions.

Publicly, the US has been restrained in its response to London's decision, but President Donald Trump was reportedly furious.

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, his assessment of Huawei won the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, who said on Friday that "nations cannot cede telecommunications infrastructure to China for financial expediency".

Washington has sanctions in place aimed at blocking Huawei from getting any US telecoms equipment contracts and preventing the transfer of technology to the Chinese firm.

 
 

Huawei vehemently denies the US allegations and Beijing has characterised the treatment of the company as "economic bullying".

A US indictment on Friday laid fresh criminal charges against Huawei related to theft of intellectual property, adding to earlier allegations that the company stole trade secrets from American carrier T-mobile.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 16, 2020, with the headline 'Huawei a Trojan horse and threat to Nato: US top officials'. Subscribe