Pompeo warns Europe against allowing 'Chinese tech giants' build 5G networks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media in the briefing room at the State Department, on November 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned against European states allowing companies with Chinese links from constructing 5G networks across the continent.

Pompeo made the remarks in an op-ed for Politico published on Monday, where he called on European leaders to "put security first" when it comes to the building 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.

The Trump administration has accused Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its sophisticated 5G technology of spying for the Chinese government, an allegation strongly denied by both the firm and Beijing.

Washington has not yet provided any evidence to support the espionage allegation.

Pompeo wrote, "[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."

A customer looks at a mobile phone next to a 5G logo at a store in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province on October 31, 2019. (AFP photo)

The Chinese company has denied the US accusations and says the concerns are unfounded.

Critics of the US say that its motive in attacking Huawei is not because it is a genuine security threat but because it is a rival in a crucial sector of the world economy in which America has enjoyed supremacy for decades.

Pompeo’s article comes at a sensitive time in US-China relations, as the world’s two largest economies have been locked for almost a year in an escalating trade war.

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