Mike Pompeo’s message was lucid: if Huawei is allowed to build its network in an allied country it would make it difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.
In a significant development, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a word of caution to U.S. allies against deploying equipment from Huawei on their soil.
Pompeo stated, if Huawei was allowed to build its network in an allied country it would make it difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.
The U.S. warning comes in the wake of warning from intelligence agencies stating they believe Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage purposes. China sees Huawei’s expansion into central Europe as a way to gain a foothold in the EU market.
Washington is particular concerned about the expansion of Huawei into Poland and Hungary.
“We want to make sure we identify (to) them the opportunities and the risks of using that equipment,” said Pompeo during a visit to Budapest.
Huawei has repeatedly denied engaging in intelligence work for any government. In a statement, Huawei said, its technologies serve 70% of Hungarians and that it cooperates with most telecoms providers in Hungary, including state-owned enterprises.
“We have seen this all around the world. It also makes it more difficult for America to be present,” said Pompeo in referrence to Huawei’s equipment. “If that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them.”
During his visit, Pompeo announced plans for a defense cooperation agreement with Hungary, a country that is very enthusiastic on Chinese investment. Cautioning on “the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary” Pompeo reached out to Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto saying keeping China’s Huawei at bay would enable the U.S. to cooperate more on its bid to buy mid-range air defense capabilities from the United States.
Poland is already considering banning Huawei from participating in its 5G networks following the arrest of a Chinese employee of Huawei along with a former Polish security official on charges of espionage. Both men have denied wrongdoing.
Poland is also pushing Washington for an increased military presence on its soil. Pompeo os also scheduled to visit Slovakia, before he visits Poland, which is eager to purchase F-16 fighter aircraft.
Pompeo’s tour includes a conference on the Middle East, hosted by Poland, where Washington hopes to build a coalition against Iran.
He is also expected to voice concerns on energy ties with Moscow, while urging Hungary not to support the TurkStream pipeline, which is part of the Kremlin’s plans to bypass Ukraine, the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe.
Incidentally, Hungary gets most of its gas from Russia and its main domestic source of electricity is the Paks nuclear power plant where Russia’s Rosatom is involved in a $14 billion (12.5 billion-euro) expansion.