Australians are already well aware of the potential pitfalls involved when dealing with the mammoth Chinese telecoms gear manufacturer, Huawei.
Though the company continues to deny all spying allegations, its links to the Chinese Communist Party run deep. Concerned about the company’s potential to infiltrate secure networks, the US is spearheading a global push against China’s quickly spreading digital tendrils.
Pompeo warns allies
In Budapest on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a warning for US allies considering using Huawei equipment on their soil.
In addition to saying it would be more difficult for Washington to ‘partner alongside [allies that use Huawei technology]’ Pompeo continued, ‘we want to make sure we identify (to) them the opportunities and the risks of using that equipment.’
His appearance in Hungary is the first stop on a trip to central Europe, which will also include Slovakia and Poland. The aim of the trip is to strengthen ties in the region and counteract the increasing influence of China and Russia, administration officials say.
Washington is worried about the growing footprint of Huawei Technologies in Hungary and Poland.
While the US and its Western allies believe the telecoms giant’s gear could be used for espionage, Huawei denies these accusations.
According to the company, Huawei provides services for 70% of Hungarians, including state-owned enterprises, RAW reports.
But Pompeo now seems to be framing the question in ‘us or them’ terms.
‘We have seen this all around the world, it also makes it more difficult for America to be present,’ he said.
Defence cooperation plan underway
The US Secretary of State announced plans for a defence cooperation agreement with Hungary — a country that has embraced Chinese investment.
In talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Pompeo said he had discussed ‘the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary.’
Hungary’s nationalist government has been largely isolated from the European Union and hopes to secure the purchase of medium-range air defence weaponry.
Meanwhile in Poland, the government is considering banning Huawei from participating in the development of 5G capabilities, much like Australia has recently done. The country’s security forces have arrested a Chinese Huawei employee and a former Polish security official on spying allegations last month, according to RAW.
Both man have denied the charges.
The tour will also include a conference on Middle East issues, where the US administration is hoping to build a coalition against Iran.
It is thought that Pompeo will use this opportunity to voice concerns about energy arrangements with Russia, and in particular, urge Hungary not to support the TurkStream pipeline. The pipeline is Russia’s plan to bypass Ukraine, the main pathway for Russian gas entering Europe.
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