Huawei ar­rests in Poland show how Trump vs China tests Eu­rope

Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS -

As Poland added to the global scru­tiny of Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co on Fri­day with the ar­rest of a com­pany em­ployee and a lo­cal for­mer se­cu­rity agent, the coun­try’s author­i­ties also ex­posed the divi­sion in Eu­rope over pol­icy to­ward the Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy gi­ant.

Huawei is fac­ing in­creas­ing pres­sure across the Euro­pean Union amid grow­ing con­cerns that Bei­jing could use the com­pany’s equip­ment for spy­ing, some­thing ex­ec­u­tives have de­nied. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has been push­ing Euro­pean al­lies to block Huawei from tele­com net­works amid a wider dis­pute over trade with China.

While there’s lit­tle to sug­gest any po­lit­i­cal mo­tive, the War­saw gov­ern­ment is a staunch ally of the US and the coun­try is a pro­to­type of Trump-style na­tion­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism. Poland re­lies on the EU for money, though counts on the Amer­i­cans for se­cu­rity and US troops are sta­tioned on its soil.

The dilemma is that Eu­rope needs to de­velop its in­fra­struc­ture some­how. Var­i­ous coun­tries, in­clud­ing the UK, France, Ger­many, Nor­way, have pub­licly raised con­cerns about us­ing Huawei equip­ment for next-gen­er­a­tion mo­bile net­works. But oth­ers, like Spain, Por­tu­gal and Hun­gary, have been more wel­com­ing to Chi­nese in­volve­ment.

“Eu­rope is fac­ing a chal­lenge when it comes to deal­ing with Huawei and it shows that the con­ti­nent doesn’t have the abil­ity to be au­tonomous,” said Solange Gh­er­naouti, head of the Swiss Cy­ber­se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sory and Re­search Group. “Eu­rope is ei­ther de­pen­dent on China or the US”

The Huawei em­ployee de­tained in Poland is a Chi­nese cit­i­zen re­spon­si­ble for sales to pub­lic sec­tor clients, tele­vi­sion news chan­nel TVPInfo said on Fri­day. The other de­tained per­son is a for­mer high-rank­ing of­fi­cial at Poland’s In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Agency who worked at mo­bile phone op­er­a­tor Or­ange Pol­ska SA. They will re­main in cus­tody for three months.

Ev­i­dence shows that both men con­ducted es­pi­onage ac­tiv­i­ties against Poland, Stanis­law Zaryn, a spokesman for Poland’s se­cret ser­vices chief, said in a state­ment. If con­victed, they face up to 10 years in jail, Zaryn said. When he tweeted the ar­rests in English, he in­cluded hash­tags for the US De­part­ment of State, the FBI and CIA.

“For us, this spe­cific in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cerns two peo­ple,” he said later on Fri­day. “A sep­a­rate is­sue is that of threats in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try. These are two sep­a­rate is­sues.”

Poland’s cy­ber­se­cu­rity chief, Karol Okon­ski, told RMF Ra­dio that ideally the EU and NATO would be “as con­sis­tent as pos­si­ble” on Huawei. He said the coun­try is con­sid­er­ing rec­om­mend­ing cau­tion to­ward the com­pany, in­clud­ing po­ten­tial ex­clu­sion from its IT mar­ket.

China is highly con­cerned over the is­sue, the press of­fice at the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs said. “We are ask­ing the re­lated coun­try to deal with the case fairly based on laws” and pro­tect the le­git­i­mate rights of the peo­ple, it said.

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