(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Poland agreed Monday to a deal designed to secure 5G wireless networks in the European country, a move that could result in blocking Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese telecommunications firms from its networks.
The deal with Poland comes as the U.S. has been courting companies to reject Chinese technology in their next generation of wireless networks, telling allies it could put their citizens’ data at risk of espionage. It was signed by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who’s visiting Warsaw for a ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of World War II, and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
“We believe that all countries must ensure that only trusted and reliable suppliers participate in our networks to protect them from unauthorized access or interference,” according to the declaration, which doesn’t single out China or any companies.
It stipulates that suppliers should be given a “rigorous evaluation,” including whether they are controlled by a foreign government, and be subject to “independent judicial review.” They would also be vetted on whether they have a transparent ownership structure, a “record of ethical corporate behavior” and if they’re “subject to a legal regime that enforces transparent corporate practices.”
Huawei has denied that its products could be used for espionage and worked aggressively to market its equipment. Wireless carriers across the globe are expected to spend billions of dollars in the coming years to upgrade to the new, faster standard.
“We must stand together to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from using subsidiaries like Huawei to gather intelligence while supporting China’s military and state security services -- with our technology,” Marc Short, chief of staff to the vice president, told reporters.
“This agreement will also encourage other nations across the wider world to ensure that only trusted providers have access to their developing networks,” Short said.
The Trump Administration -- which has warned companies that if they use the products made in China, it will jeopardize U.S. willingness to share intelligence -- has thus far struggled to convince European nations to get on board with its Huawei ban, though the company for years has been effectively prohibited from selling its equipment to American mobile phone-service providers.
Pence said the Poland deal would set a “vital example for the rest of Europe.”
Huawei, in a statement, said it has provided services to Poland for decades and trusts the nation’s government to make the right decisions for its citizens.
“Huawei opposes the politicization of 5G technology,” the company said. “We believe that managing cyber security should be based on facts and standardization, not on speculation and prejudice.”
Earlier this year, Huawei fired Wang Weijing, an employee arrested in Poland on suspicion of spying for the Chinese government. The company said that the employee’s alleged criminal activity was unrelated to his work for the firm.
(Updates with Huawei comments starting in 10th paragraph.)
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