Op-Ed by U.S. Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman
February 17, 2020
Huawei is the wrong way on 5G development. Contrary to popular marketing and public misconception, 5G is not synonymous with Chinese companies. American, European, and South Korean companies are leading the way on 5G development in markets around the world. 5G technology offers opportunity, but in the wrong hands, it threatens national security. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, competition with China challenges the basic freedoms that every one of us values.
A 5G network is not just a communications network – it represents critical infrastructure for the 21st century economy. Much like a network of roads and highways helps move people and goods and unlock economic potential, future 5G networks will be highways and byways of the digital economy. We must ensure to use companies that continue to develop trustworthy 5G technologies, companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and Qualcomm. These companies are a solution to the threat we face from technology companies tied to the Chinese Communist Party.
Huawei, in contrast to these trustworthy companies, was charged last week by the U.S. Department of Justice with racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. As part of its decades-long scheme, Huawei paid bonuses to employees who stole confidential information from competitors in the United States.
Unlike Western companies, Chinese technology companies are required to share information and technology with Chinese military or intelligence authorities. Chinese companies and their customers are never truly free from the oversight of the Chinese Communist Party. We cannot trust these companies to keep our networks secure and uphold our democratic values.
In August 2019, the United States and Romania signed a memorandum of understanding that agreed on the threats posed by untrusted vendors. But it is not just the United States raising concerns: on January 29, the European Union called on Member States to exclude high-risk suppliers from critical parts of 5G networks.
There’s no safe place for Chinese companies in 5G networks. The only way to protect the security of 5G is to build it with companies we can trust. Allowing Chinese equipment into any part of a 5G network creates unacceptable risks to national security, critical infrastructure, privacy, and human rights. We look forward to working with our NATO Allies to build a strong, secure, and prosperous digital future that supports and defends our values and way of life.