U.S., Poland sign 5G pact as Huawei concerns persist

U.S. Vice President Michael Pence said Tuesday that the U.s. is working with telecom companies around the world to find 5G alternatives to Huawei. (Getty Images)

The United States and Poland this week signed a joint declaration pledging to keep so-called bad actors out of next generation infrastructure, as Washington continues to lobby allies to exclude Chinese telecom giant Huawei from 5G networks amid security concerns.

Huawei was not named in the agreement, signed by U.S. Vice President Michael Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw Monday, and which states that equipment suppliers for 5G networks should be carefully evaluated to determine “whether the supplier is subject, without independent judicial review, to control by a foreign government,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“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 states.

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The U.S., which is currently embroiled in a trade war with China, previously flagged Huawei as a national security threat because of concerns the company could be used by the Chinese government for acts like cyberespionage. Huawei has continuously denied allegations. 

Pence met with Poland’s president Andrej Duda and both countries pledged to implement Prague Protocols on 5G Security, which were developed by a coalition of cybersecurity officials from dozens of countries earlier this summer.

When asked at a joint press conference if the U.S. has ever given Poland evidence that China spied using Huawei technology, Duda did not name the United States, but said “Polish counterintelligence have detected certain actions, which might have been an espionage nature,” and the issue is being investigated.

At a joint press conference with Duda, Pence said he believed the declaration “will set a vital example for the rest of Europe on the broader question of 5G.”

Countries have been weighing the decision of whether or not to ban Huawei equipment or only allow the vendor’s gear in certain parts of networks. Last month the U.K. held off on a final decision about Huawei, leaving it up to the new administration under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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Pence, during an event with Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Tuesday, reiterated warnings against using Huawei gear in 5G networks.

“It is well known that Chinese law requires Chinese telecom companies to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network,” said Pence. “And, we believe in the United States that there’s no place for untrusted vendors anywhere in our secure 5G supply chain.

“We’re working with telecom companies across the world to develop 5G alternatives to Huawei,” Pence added.  

Huawei, meanwhile, on Tuesday accused the U.S. of trying to disrupt its business by launching cyber attacks and “menacing” employees, though did not provide specific evidence, according to the WSJ.