US Officials Speak on Strategy to Exclude Huawei 5G Equipment in the EU

By Kitty Wang

The United States said it is continuing to urge allies like the EU to adopt shared security and policy measures so that China-based companies like Huawei cannot dominate the future of 5G networks.

Government officials from more than 30 countries are set to meet in Prague on May 2-3 to discuss agreements for common security principles of next generation telecom networks like 5G, the head of the Czech Cyber Security Agency (NUKIB) recently told Reuters.

“Our strategy is to have a discussion on the front end rather than on the back end before countries make decisions,” said Randy Schriver, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, during an expert panel discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. on April 16.

Randall Schriver and Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen
(L-R) Randall Schriver, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, and Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, secretary-general of the Council of the European Union, at the Hudson Institute in Washington on April 16. (Jennifer Zeng/The Epoch Times)

“So we’re actively engaged, trying to present what we understand the risks and vulnerabilities to be … as countries make individual decisions, we’ll then have to account for it.”

Maintaining Relationships

Right now, European countries are making their own assessments on 5G network security. The United States has continuously warned its European allies that if they don’t keep Huawei’s equipment out of their 5G network systems, the United States will not be able to maintain the same level of confidential information sharing.

Randy Schriver
Randy Schriver, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Security Affairs at the “Caught in the Crossfire: Balancing EU relations with the U.S. and China” discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington on April 16, 2019. (NTD Screenshot)

“If we don’t feel confident that we can continue to do that (share information) based on the decisions of the individual member state, then we may have to change how we operate,” said Schriver. “I hope we don’t get there, which is why we want the conversations on the front end.”

Strategic Outlook

The European Commission released its report “EU-China: A Strategic Outlook” in March, and proposed adjusting the EU’s China policy to address the growing threats. Among 10 action plans, one action includes establishing a common EU approach on the security of 5G networks. The European Council has adopted the document’s policies.

Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, commented on the timeline for implementing the new policy.

Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen
Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, secretary-general of council of the European Union at the “Caught in the Crossfire: Balancing EU relations with the U.S. and China” discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington on April 16, 2019. (NTD Screenshot)

“In the conclusion of the European Council, setting out a framework for member states to evaluate the risks, and calling all of them to do so by the end of June,” he said. “And at the same time, establishing a process that can lead to a more collective risk assessment by the first of October.”

U.S.-based experts believe that this policy from the European Council is very important. They told NTD that while there has been a lot of false information in the current discussion about 5G risks, they are hopeful that European countries will work together on a thorough assessment.

“On that basis, I am confident the European countries will align a lot with the U.S. also on this issue,” said Liselotte Odgaard, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Liselotte Odgaard
Liselotte Odgaard, a senior fellow of Hudson Institute at the “Caught in the Crossfire: Balancing EU relations with the U.S. and China” discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington on April 16, 2019. (NTD Screenshot)