The U.S. raised the pressure on Western allies in a war of attrition over next-generation networks on Friday, saying countries that allow China’s Huawei to build their telecoms infrastructure could be cut off from crucial intelligence data.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued the warning after meeting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, which has so far stood with Britain and France in declining calls to ban the state-owned manufacturer.
Mr. Pompeo, on the first leg of a five-day European tour, said that while countries would take a “sovereign decision” on which equipment to use, that decision would have consequences.
“(There is) a risk we will have to change our behaviour in light of the fact that we can’t permit data on private citizens or data on national security to go across networks that we don’t have confidence (in),” he told a news conference.
Mr. Pompeo later met Chancellor Angela Merkel for brief talks before flying on to Switzerland, describing Germany as “a great, important partner and ally of the United States.”
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, responding to similar comments on Huawei made by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence on Thursday, said the U.S. had yet to prove that Huawei’s products presented a security risk. “We hope that the United States can stop these mistaken actions which are not at all commensurate with their status and position as a big country,” said spokesman Geng Shuang.
Mr. Pompeo also urged Germany to follow Britain in proscribing Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.