22 August 2019

Pompeo warns allies Huawei presence complicates partnership with U.S.

KONFRONTASI-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned U.S. allies on Monday against deploying equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on their soil, saying it would make it more difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.

The United States and its Western allies believe Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage, and see its expansion into central Europe as a way to gain a foothold in the EU market.

Washington is concerned in particular about the expansion of Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecoms equipment, in Hungary and Poland.

“We want to make sure we identify (to) them the opportunities and the risks of using that equipment,” Pompeo told reporters during a visit to the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

Hungary is the first stop in a trip by Pompeo to central Europe that also includes Slovakia and Poland and is part of what administration officials say is an effort to make up for a lack of U.S. engagement in the region that opened the door to more Chinese and Russian influence.

Huawei denies engaging in intelligence work for any government. It says its technologies serve 70 percent 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,” Pompeo told reporters during a stop at the U.S. embassy,” referring to Huawei equipment. “If that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them.”

Pompeo announced plans for a defense cooperation agreement with Hungary, one of the European governments that is most enthusiastic about Chinese investment. But he said he had discussed “the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary” in talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

Budapest’s nationalist government, like Poland’s largely isolated politically in the European Union, hopes to buy mid-range air defense capabilities from the United States.

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