The United States has spent “the past couple years” working to make sure its partners around the world are aware of the risks of working with companies such as Huawei, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Lisbon on Dec. 5.
Pompeo made the remarks while visiting Portugal, which does business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
The Trump administration has been working to alert partners around the world of the risks of working with Chinese companies as they build out their 5G networks.
“I make this point because the Chinese Communist party will not hesitate to use any tool a hand to repress the wrong people and others around the world,” Pompeo said.
He did not cite Chinese telecom giant Huawei by name, but referred to what he called untrusted networks.
“We want to make sure that Chinese economic leverage is never used to suppress democratic voices, anywhere in the world, here in Portugal, in Europe, in the United States or any place,” Pompeo said.
Huawei has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and is known for aiding the Chinese regime’s efforts to monitor citizens.
Ajit Pai, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave a similar warning over China’s 5G last month. He said this was a “major concern” for the United States that could open the door to surveillance, espionage, and other dangers.
U.S. officials have long conveyed concerns of national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment providers, and of hidden “backdoors” to networks in routers or other equipment that could allow foreign powers to inject malware or steal private U.S. data, Pai said on Nov. 5 at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank.
Pai dedicated a portion of his remarks to warning about the threat posed by Huawei and its links to China’s communist regime. He said that although Huawei positioned itself as a private company, it has “significant ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military, noting that under the law in China, all companies must comply with requests from the country’s intelligence services.
In May, Trump signed an executive order that would allow the government to block the purchase of foreign-made telecommunications equipment deemed a national security risk to the United States.
The Trump administration has previously lobbied other countries to not use Huawei’s 5G equipment. And in October, five U.S. senators wrote to Microsoft concerning the “real and urgent” threats posed by Huawei, listing examples of Huawei’s cyber-espionage and technology theft. The letter was in response to Microsoft President Brad Smith, also the U.S. software developer’s chief legal officer, who said in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview that U.S. regulators should provide more evidence to back up its rationale for blacklisting Huawei.
Epoch Times reporter Bowen Xiao and Reuters contributed to this report.