The United States is urging its allies to stop using Huawei telecommunications equipment because the Chinese company poses a security threat, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the discussions, reports that US officials are pushing countries that host American military bases to ban the use of Huawei equipment from their wireless and internet networks.
The US military uses secure networks for its most sensitive communications, but it is concerned that much of its traffic still moves over commercial networks in countries such as Germany, Italy and Japan, the Journal reported. US officials are meeting with government representatives and telecom executives in the other countries to urge them to exclude Huawei equipment from government and commercial networks.
Huawei equipment increases the risk of cyberattacks and could allow China to spy on communications or disable connections in the fast growing “internet of things,” the US officials argue.
“We engage with countries around the world about our concerns regarding cyberthreats in telecommunications infrastructure,” an unnamed US official told the Journal. “As they’re looking to move to 5G, we remind them of those concerns. There are additional complexities to 5G networks that make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.”
Huawei told CNN Business Friday that its equipment is trusted by customers in 170 countries and by 46 of the world’s 50 largest telecommunications companies.
“Huawei is surprised by the behaviors of the US government detailed in the article,” it said. “If a government’s behavior extends beyond its jurisdiction, such activity should not be encouraged. Huawei firmly believes that our partners and customers will make the right choice based on their own judgment and experience of working with Huawei.”
US intelligence officials have expressed concern about the safety of products made by Huawei and another Chinese tech firm, ZTE. The Pentagon in May ordered stores on American military bases to stop selling smartphones made by the companies. And in February, top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency told a Senate committee that those firms’ smartphones posed a security threat to American customers.
Some other allies have already taken steps to limit Huawei. The company announced in August that the Australian government has blocked it from providing 5G technology for the country’s wireless networks.
The report comes at a time of growing trade tensions between the United States and China. Each country has imposed tariffs on the other’s products and threatened more. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet at the G20 summit in Argentina next week.
A spokesperson for the Department of Commerce said in an emailed statement the agency “will remain vigilant against any threat to U.S. national security and continues to diligently implement the settlement agreement with ZTE. We have no further comment at this time.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.