US and Poland 5G agreement an ‘example for Europe’, Pence says

A man (L) looks at Huawei mobile phones at a shop in Bangkok, Thailand, 13 June 2019 (issued 17 June 2019). [EPA-EFE/DIEGO AZUBEL]

The US and Poland have signed a joint declaration to collaborate on 5G security in what US Vice President Mike Pence said would “set a vital example for the rest of Europe”.

The agreement, signed in Warsaw by Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki backs plans outlined in ‘The Prague Proposals’ – a series of measures contrived in May to ensure the future security of next-generation communications networks.

“Protecting these next-generation communications networks from disruption or manipulation and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the United States, Poland, and other countries is of vital importance,” the agreement says.

Ren Zhengfei: 'Very likely' Huawei products will be used in UK core 5G networks

Huawei 5G equipment will most probably be used in core aspects of the UK’s future 5G network infrastructure, the founder of the Chinese telecommunications giant, Ren Zhengfei has said. His claim runs contrary to the previous stance held by the UK cabinet, which was to permit the company access only to ‘non-core’ aspects of the country’s 5G networks.

Monday’s consensus comes as the US reignites its campaign against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, with an increase in political pressure on EU member states.

The US administration accuses the company of cooperating in espionage campaigns on behalf of the Chinese state. Washington, however,  is yet to publicly disclose any evidence to support the claims.

Speaking to reporters on Monday,  Polish President Andrzej Duda was pressed on whether the US has provided the Polish authorities on any proof that would suggest Huawei had carried out any espionage campaigns on behalf of the Chinese authorities.

“Indeed, Poland’s counter-intelligence has detected activity that could be of espionage nature,” Duda said, adding that prosecutors are investigating the claims.

Meanwhile, Huawei suggested on Monday that the issue of cybersecurity is being politicised by the US administration amid the ongoing US-China trade tensions.

“Cyber​​security is in essence a technical matter,” a spokesperson from the company told EURACTIV. “Huawei opposes the politicisation of 5G technology. We believe that managing cybersecurity should be based on facts and standardisation, not on speculation and prejudice.”

Over recent months, Poland has proved to be fertile ground for the US in their campaign against Huawei.

In January, the firm was hit with espionage allegations after a Huawei employee, Weijing W, otherwise known as ‘Stanislaw Wang’, was arrested in Poland. Following the arrest, it was reported that Poland may consider a ban on Huawei products as a result of the allegations.

Huawei, however, were remaining optimistic on Monday, remaining optimistic that Poland would not bow to US pressure. “We are convinced that the Polish government will make the right decisions regarding the development of the country and the interests of its citizens,” a Huawei spokesperson said.

“We will continue to provide Poland with safe and reliable products and solutions, transforming our innovations into the driving force of Polish economic growth.”

Huawei admit Chinese law obliges companies to work with government, under conditions

Chinese State Security Law forces companies based in the country to “provide assistance with work relating to State Security,” a senior Huawei official in Brussels has said, in comments likely to heighten cybersecurity concerns about the Chinese tech giant.

Despite Huawei’s pleas of innocence, in April, a senior official from the company disclosed that Chinese State Security Law forces companies based in the country to “provide assistance with work relating to state security,” adding however that the company “has never been requested to implement backdoors in its equipment.”

“It is true that Article 77 of the State Security Law sets out an obligation on organisations and individuals to provide assistance with work relating to State Security,” Sophie Batas, director for cybersecurity and data privacy at Huawei Europe told a Brussels audience.

However, Batas went on to defend Huawei’s position in the legal framework of Article 77, clarifying that the rules “cannot violate the laws of other countries” and that the law “does not permit the Chinese government to request manufacturers to implement backdoors” in products.

US 'undermining political independence of Europe,' Huawei says

The US campaign against Chinese telecoms manufacturers is undermining the “political independence of Europe” to decide commercial partnerships for itself, Huawei has warned.

As to the US pressure on Western allies to expel Huawei from involvement in the building of 5G networks, Huawei has previously said that American officials are ‘undermining the political independence‘ of the EU.

In March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed the US pressure on Europe, stating that “we will define standards for ourselves”. Following the chancellor’s statement, the German Federal Networks Agency, BNetzA, established tighter security standards for 5G equipment, but did not commit to excluding any particular company without sufficient evidence.

Meanwhile, the EU has been keen to preserve its political independence from the US in the ongoing debate over Huawei.

Following a recent European Commission recommendation for a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks, member states recently submitted national risk assessments – providing an overview of their most pressing concerns in the future development of 5G infrastructure. These assessments will feed into the next phase, a EU-wide risk assessment which will be completed by 1 October.

[Edited by Sam Morgan]

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