The U.S. and Poland signed an agreement on Monday to cooperate on new 5G technology as concerns grow about Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. U.S Vice President Mike Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed the deal in Warsaw.
The signing comes during a global battle between the U.S. and Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of network infrastructure equipment, over recent network security concerns expressed by the American tech industry.
“Protecting these next-generation communications networks from disruption or manipulation and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the United States, Poland, and other countries is of vital importance,” the agreement reportedly states.
The joint declaration didn’t mention Huawei Technologies Co. by name but said Poland would carefully review any company interested in building new, faster 5G internet infrastructure to establish “whether the supplier is subject, without independent judicial review, to control by a foreign government.”
The agreement would “ensure the security of our digital infrastructure,” said Mr. Pence at a press conference on Monday. “This declaration we believe will set a vital example for the rest of Europe,” he said.
This comes as a positive development for the U.S since its other European allies have been reluctant to take a hard stance against Huawei, in part from fear that such a move would endanger the relationship with China. Also incognizant with the fact that Huawei is more than a year ahead of its European rivals in developing the technology needed to bring 5G internet to market.
Poland, a key U.S. partner on security issues, has been an exception. Its trade with China is relatively minimal compared with Europe’s larger economies, and maintaining close ties with Washington has been an overriding foreign policy goal.
Huawei, in a statement, said it has provided services to Poland for decades and trusts the nation’s government to make the right decisions for its citizens.
“Huawei opposes the politicization of 5G technology,” the company said. “We believe that managing cybersecurity should be based on facts and standardization, not on speculation and prejudice.”
The US has been urging other countries against using Huawei’s 5G network tech since last year. However, Huawei has repeatedly denied US allegations and objected to being blacklisted by the U.S administration. Wireless carriers across the globe are expected to spend billions of dollars in the coming years to upgrade to the new, faster standard. Amidst all these allegations and global debate on data protection, it will interesting to see if more countries take a similarly wary stance toward 5G network equipment from foreign providers.