Mike Pompeo calls for European suppliers for EU's 5G network roll out
The US Secretary of State urged EU nations to shun Huawei and ZTE
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged EU governments to use domestic telecoms companies Ericsson and Nokia to build 5G networks to avoid Chinese companies taking “control” of vital infrastructure.
Mr Pompeo urged states to avoid Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE warning that they could be used by the Chinese government to install “kill switches” to cut off electricity supplies and disrupt hi-tech surgery.
The Secretary of State, who is visiting the UK this week for a Nato conference, wrote on the Politico website that decisions on suppliers could have lasting impacts on nations’ abilities to “protect their people’s privacy, and ultimately, safeguard their freedoms”.
Washington earlier this year effectively banned US firms from doing business with Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms network manufacturer, because of security concerns.
Mr Pompeo has previously accused the chief executive of Huawei of lying about his company’s ties to the Beijing government.
Huawei has repeatedly denied that it was controlled by the Chinese government and is furious at the arrest of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada in December last year. She faces extradition to the US over allegations that the company breached sanctions against Iran.
She has published an open letter detailing her life on bail but did not comment about the charges against her.
The 5G network, which the EU wants to be in operation across major swathes of the 28-nation bloc by 2025, is designed for industrial applications including autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence technologies.
Mr Pompeo said Huawei had links to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, was implicated in espionage across Europe and stolen intellectual property from other countries. He also criticised state support that allowed it to undercut prices of rivals.
“5G networks will soon touch every aspect of life, including critical infrastructure,” he wrote. “With so much on the line, it’s urgent that trustworthy companies build these 21st-century information arteries. Specifically, it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei, or ZTE.”
EU communications are due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday with plans for all 28 member states to start launching 5G services by the end of 2020 at the latest.
It wants a rapid build-up of services to “ensure uninterrupted 5G coverage in urban areas and along main transport paths by 2025”.
Mr Pompeo said EU countries should use “accountable” companies in the EU such as Ericsson and Nokia and South Korean company Samsung to build their networks.
Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm warned in a blog on Monday that Europe was in danger of falling behind in 5G.
“Over the last decade there has been considerable public support to promote 5G in Europe,” he wrote. “But in actual rollouts, Europe is fast falling behind lead markets in North America, North East Asia and Australia.”
Updated: December 2, 2019 03:41 PM