China, US continue tit-for-tat row over Huawei – Aljazeera.com

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China, US continue tit-for-tat row over Huawei - Aljazeera.com

A senior Chinese official has dismissed concerns raised by US Vice President Mike Pence over telecommunications giant Huawei, rejecting allegations the company might covertly collect data and report it to Beijing.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, top diplomat Yang Jiechi also urged European leaders to ignore Washington’s calls for Huawei to be banned from developing 5G wireless infrastructure in their countries.

“The Europeans know very well what is the wise path for them to go forward,” Jiechi said.

“In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we should all work together … And Chinese law does not require companies to install backdoors or collect intelligence,” he added.

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is the subject of intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have all put restrictions on the company’s access to their markets, citing concerns its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

‘National security threat’

Washington has argued that Chinese vendors are subject to a National Intelligence Law that requires the country’s organisations and citizens to collaborate in espionage efforts.

In separate comments to the Munich conference on Saturday, Vice President Pence said the US had been “clear with our security partners on the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies”.

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Chinese law requires them to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network or equipment,” he said.

Pence added that Washington was “calling on all our security partners to be vigilant and to reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems”.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the US claims it may be involved in the collection of intelligence for the Chinese government.

Britain, Germany voice concerns

Saturday’s tit-for-tat came after Britain’s foreign intelligence service called on Friday for a “proper conversation” in the United Kingdom about whether to restrict Huawei’s access to the country’s 5G market, warning it was not “inherently desirable that any piece of significant national infrastructure is provided from a monopoly supplier”.

Asked by the Reuters news agency if the UK was weighing up a move to ban the telecoms giant, MI6 chief Alex Younger replied the issue was “more complicated … than ‘in or out'”.

I’m not pretending I have the full answer for this, I am saying that it’s important for us to work through all of this stuff,” the 55-year-old said, adding that he had not felt any pressure from Britain’s allies in the West over potentially using Huawei as a supplier.

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Britain’s BT Group – the largest provider of mobile services in the UK – said in December it was removing Huawei equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the incoming 5G network.

Separately on Friday, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Reuters that Berlin plans to tighten the law on the security standards that must be met by telecoms operators bidding to participate in the build-out of next-generation 5G networks in the country.

“We will improve and strengthen our national law regarding security requirements for secure communications,” Altmaier said on the sidelines of the Munich conference.

“All suppliers to German telecoms service providers will have to meet these requirements,” he added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Germany would require guarantees Huawei would not hand over data to the Chinese state before the telecoms equipment supplier can participate in building its 5G network.

An upgrade to existing 4G mobile technology, 5G is expected to deliver enhanced speed and security to internet users, enabling much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and new types of machine-to-machine communication.

Most countries are unlikely to roll out the technology before 2020, according to a recent study by the US-based Eurasia Group consultancy firm, but China is pushing ahead with efforts to launch its 5G network this year.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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