Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday warned against European countries allowing companies with Chinese links from constructing 5G networks across the continent ahead of a global technology conference.
In an op-ed for Politico Europe, Pompeo urged leaders to “put security first” when it comes to the construction of 5G networks.
“5G networks will soon touch every aspect of life, including critical infrastructure,” Pompeo wrote. “Innovative new capabilities will power autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, smart grids and other groundbreaking technologies. Thanks to the way 5G networks are built, it’s impossible to separate any one part of the network from another.”
“With so much on the line, it’s urgent that trustworthy companies build these 21st-century information arteries. Specifically, it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei, or ZTE,” the secretary continued.
Pompeo’s singling out of Huawei and ZTE come as U.S. officials have accused the two companies of allowing Chinese intelligence services to access devices manufactured by them for commercial use.
Of Huawei, Pompeo continued: “[Huawei] is implicated in espionage in the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands, has allegedly stolen intellectual property from foreign competitors in Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, and is accused of bribery and corrupt practices in countries like Algeria, Belgium and Sierra Leone.”
His remarks come ahead of a Tuesday meeting in Brussels of top European communications officials, who are expected to discuss the expansion of 5G infrastructure across the continent among other topics at the conference.
In September, the U.S. signed an agreement with Polish officials to cooperate on 5G technology in an effort to box Huawei out of Poland’s network.