The US upped pressure on Europe Wednesday to avoid turning to Huawei for 5G telecom infrastructure, with a top commander saying NATO forces would cease communicating with their German colleagues if Berlin teams up with the Chinese firm. The US and several other Western nations, fearful of the security risks posed by a company closely tied to the Chinese government, have shut Huawei out of tenders for the development of super-fast fifth-generation, or 5G, networks.
“We’re concerned about their telecommunications backbone being compromised in the sense that, particularly with 5G, the bandwidth capability and ability to pull data is incredible,” US General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, told US lawmakers. “If it also is inside of their defense communications, then we’re not going to communicate with them” across those systems, the general said before the House Armed Services Committee.
“And for the military, that would be a problem.” Scaparrotti’s comments came during questioning about trade talks in Europe, and Germany in particular, with Chinese telecom groups such as Huawei. Chinese law obliges companies headquartered in the country to provide technical assistance to intelligence services, but Huawei has strenuously denied allegations its equipment could be used for espionage.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting US assistant secretary of defense for international affairs, told the committee Huawei represents a “threat” to Europe. Private and military concerns “I can assure you that in all our conversations with all our European partners, we make very clear the threat of Chinese investment or development of the telecommunications infrastructure in Europe,” Wheelbarger said.