Pom­peo warns Hun­gary of China tech

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - MATTHEW LEE

BU­DAPEST, Hun­gary — U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Mon­day that Amer­ica might be forced to scale back cer­tain op­er­a­tions in Europe and else­where if coun­tries con­tinue to do busi­ness with the Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany Huawei.

Pom­peo made the com­ments in Bu­dapest on the first leg of a five-na­tion Euro­pean tour dur­ing which he said he would raise Amer­i­can con­cerns about China and Rus­sia’s grow­ing in­flu­ence in Cen­tral Europe. He said he also would dis­cuss con­cerns about the rule of law, democ­racy and hu­man rights in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly in Hun­gary, where na­tion­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban has been crit­i­cized for in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian rule.

On Huawei, which is a ma­jor player in Hun­gary, Pom­peo said he would make the case to Or­ban and other of­fi­cials that do­ing busi­ness with the com­pany comes with sig­nif­i­cant risks for in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity and pri­vacy that could im­peril co­op­er­a­tion with the United States. U.S. of­fi­cials are deeply trou­bled by Huawei’s ex­pan­sion in Europe, espe­cially in NATO mem­bers in­clud­ing Hun­gary, where they be­lieve it poses sig­nif­i­cant threats.

“They are a sovereign na­tion. They get to make their own de­ci­sions with re­spect to these things,” Pom­peo told re­porters at an im­promptu news con­fer­ence at the U.S. Em­bassy in Bu­dapest. “What is im­per­a­tive is that we share with them the things we know about the risks that Huawei’s pres­ence in their net­works present — ac­tual risks to their peo­ple, to the loss of pri­vacy pro­tec­tions for their own peo­ple, to the risk that China will use this in a way that is not in the best in­ter­est of Hun­gary.”

“We have an obli­ga­tion to share this with them, and we will do so,” Pom­peo said. “But sec­ond, we have seen this all around the world. It also makes it more dif­fi­cult for Amer­ica to be present. That is, if that equipment is co-lo­cated where we have im­por­tant Amer­i­can sys­tems, it makes it more dif­fi­cult for us to part­ner along­side them. We want to make sure we iden­tify [to] them the op­por­tu­ni­ties and the risks with us­ing that equipment. And then they will get to make their de­ci­sions.”

The U.S. has re­peat­edly ac­cused China of us­ing tech­nol­ogy to pil­fer trade se­crets. China re­cently has said that it’s “to­tally un­rea­son­able” to make some of these ac­cu­sa­tions and that the U.S. is just try­ing to sup­press a

ris­ing com­peti­tor.

Pom­peo will take the same mes­sage to­day to his next stop, Slo­vakia, be­fore head­ing to Poland, where he will par­tic­i­pate in a con­fer­ence on the fu­ture of the Mid­dle East ex­pected to fo­cus on Iran. He will wrap up the tour with brief stops in Bel­gium and Ice­land.

Ahead of his vis­its to Bu­dapest and Bratislava, U.S. of­fi­cials said Pom­peo hoped to re­verse what they called a decade of U.S. dis­en­gage­ment in Cen­tral Europe that cre­ated a vac­uum Rus­sia and China have ex­ploited. Over the course of the past 10 years, the of­fi­cials said, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Chi­nese lead­ers have be­come much more ag­gres­sive in the re­gion and made in­roads.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has made a point of reach­ing out to Or­ban, who shares Trump’s strong stance on lim­it­ing mi­gra­tion and has adopted in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian mea­sures, in­clud­ing crack­ing down on the op­po­si­tion, la­bor unions, in­de­pen­dent me­dia and academia.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, had largely steered clear of Or­ban, who won a third con­sec­u­tive term last year in a cam­paign based on anti-im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies and whose poli­cies have been met with street protests and deep­en­ing con­cern within the EU.

Pom­peo put the blame for much of the back­slid­ing on a lack of U.S. en­gage­ment.

“I think for a long time we shunned them in a way that drove them to fill the vac­uum with folks who didn’t share our val­ues,” he said. “The Rus­sians and the Chi­nese ended up get­ting more in­flu­ence here; they do not re­motely share the Amer­i­can ideals that we care so deeply about.”

“So many of the con­cerns that are voiced are things that have hap­pened in the ab­sence of Amer­ica be­ing en­gaged, so I think it’s cen­trally im­por­tant that we’re here,” he said. “We’ll cer­tainly make the case about the things that we see that we wish were different here.”

Pom­peo was given a list of con­cerns in a meet­ing with Hun­gar­ian civic lead­ers. Some of their groups have been tar­geted by leg­is­la­tion mak­ing their work more dif­fi­cult, such as a tax on funds re­ceived from abroad and the pos­si­ble jail time for those con­victed of aid­ing asy­lum seek­ers. Three groups that took part said they be­lieved Pom­peo would bring them to Or­ban.

“The meet­ing and the open­ness to the opin­ion of the civic groups again demon­strated that the Amer­i­can lead­er­ship is com­mit­ted to the de­fense of the val­ues of the rule of law and the role of civil so­ci­ety,” the groups said in a state­ment.

Last month, Or­ban said he wanted “anti-im­mi­gra­tion forces” to be­come a ma­jor­ity in all Euro­pean Union in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing its Par­lia­ment and the EU’s ex­ec­u­tive Com­mis­sion, and pre­dicted that there would soon be two civ­i­liza­tions in Europe — one “that builds its fu­ture on a mixed Is­lamic and Chris­tian co­ex­is­tence” and an­other in Cen­tral Europe that would be only Chris­tian.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Pablo Gorondi of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

AP/ATTILA KISBENDEK

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo stands Mon­day next to a sculp­ture of for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan at Lib­erty Square in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary.

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