Poland charges Huawei worker, 1 other with spying for China
Polish authorities arrested two people, including a Chinese employee of the telecommunications giant Huawei, and charged them with spying for Beijing, officials said Friday, as the United States and its allies move to restrict the use of Chinese technology because of concerns that it is being used for espionage.
The arrest of the Huawei employee is almost certain to escalate tensions between Western countries and China over the company, which authorities in the United States have accused of acting as an arm of the Chinese government and making equipment designed for spying.
In December, the daughter of Huawei’s founder was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States, which said she had committed fraud as part of a scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against companies doing business with Iran. It was unclear whether the arrests in Poland had been requested by the United States. But a senior Western diplomat who was briefed on them said the Justice Department had been working with the Polish government.
Europe is increasingly a battleground in the fight over Huawei. The company’s sales in the region have been growing, but many countries there now face pressure to reconsider its presence, particularly as construction begins for the next-generation wireless networks known as 5G. Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic and Norway are among the nations that have recently questioned how deeply Huawei should be involved in developing 5G infrastructure.
Many of the countries adopting this stance are allies of the United States. Poland, specifically, is regarded by the State Department as “one of the United States’ strongest partners” in continental Europe. And Andrus Ansip, the European Union’s vice president, said last month that countries in the region should be “worried” about Huawei and other Chinese companies because of the cybersecurity risks they pose.
Huawei has long denied spying for the Chinese government. On Friday, a Huawei spokesman said the company had no comment on the arrest of its employee in Poland and insisted that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates.” The second person arrested is an employee of the French telecommunications company Orange, which confirmed that its office had been raided and that the man’s belongings had been seized.
“We are ready to cooperate with the Internal Security Agency and make any information it needs available,” the Orange spokesman, Wojciech Jabczynski, said.
Hu Xijin, the editor-inchief of Global Times, a state-run, nationalist newspaper in China, took a swipe at Poland on Twitter on Friday, writing, “Anything in Poland that is worthy of stealing for Huawei? Polish national security department flatters itself.”
In another message, he said he had met up with a friend who works at Huawei.
“He said Huawei is facing great difficulties communicating with Western public opinion,” Hu wrote. “I said Huawei has been trying to distance itself from politics, but it has grown too big that politics is coming to its door. Huawei is innocent.”
The Huawei employee arrested in Poland was identified by the authorities only as Weijing W. He was involved in the company’s sales operations in the country, officials said.