China denounces 'political' attack on Huawei by Pompeo

By Laurens Cerulus

China’s envoy to the European Union hit back at what he called politically motivated U.S. warnings that Chinese telecom equipment makers should be kept out of European 5G networks.

In response to an op-ed in POLITICO by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the head of the Chinese Mission to the EU said that claims about Huawei were “a far cry from the truth.”

“Despite the witch hunt and media hype, not a single country or individual has come up with solid evidence to prove that Huawei poses a security threat,” Zhang Ming wrote in a letter to the editor published Wednesday.

“While Pompeo attacks the Chinese Communist Party and proudly claims the moral high ground, he forgets about the NSA’s notorious PRISM surveillance program and the wiretapping of America’s closest allies,” the Chinese diplomat added.

“Pompeo’s efforts undermine the concept of national security. He is taking advantage of growing public consciousness of technology security to promote his own political agenda,” said Zhang.

Zhang was responding to the opinion article published Monday in which Pompeo wrote that “it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei, or ZTE.”

The U.S. has led a year-long diplomatic campaign to convince allies not to procure equipment from Huawei and ZTE, two vendors that compete with European firms Ericsson and Nokia on contracts for base stations, antennas and other equipment for next-generation internet networks.

The Chinese mission’s intervention in the debate coincided with a similar push from Huawei in which the firm pushed back against U.S. warnings that it poses a strategic and cybersecurity threat.

In a statement on Monday, Huawei said it “categorically rejects the defamatory and false allegations spread by the government of the United States. These are malicious and well-worn accusations. All they do is to undermine the reputation of the United States. Furthermore, they are an insult to Europe’s sovereignty and to the technical expertise of telecom operators.”

The back-and-forth is the latest tussle between the Chinese telecom company and the U.S. government to convince EU lawmakers to either keep or cut Chinese equipment from 5G networks.

The U.S. state department recently released a paper called Huawei: Myth vs. Fact that said Huawei “is aggressively spreading misleading and false information about its technical capabilities, ownership, and legal obligations to the People’s Republic of China and Chinese Communist Party.”

The paper came in direct response to Huawei’s communication campaign dubbed “Huawei Facts,” an effort launched earlier this year to disprove points made by the U.S. government in their efforts to stop the Chinese vendor from selling 5G gear. The corporate campaign also includes a Twitter account and Facebook page.