U.S. Says It's Warning Allies on Spy Risk From Telecom Vendors

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. said it’ll push European allies such as Germany to shun telecom suppliers “subject to foreign government control,” as officials keep up a campaign against China’s Huawei Technologies Co.

Five days after the Trump administration sent officials to Berlin to step up pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government over Huawei, the U.S. Embassy said allies and partners are being urged to be vigilant in ensuring network security, including when carriers award equipment contracts.

“Projects that do not meet these standards raise concerns for us,” U.S. embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The U.S. has led warnings to European governments over the Chinese equipment maker amid increasing concern that Huawei’s gear is an enabler for Chinese espionage, which the company has always denied. Germany is a focal point because the government plans to auction 5G wireless spectrum next year and its major carriers all use Huawei gear throughout their networks.

Huawei rejects the allegations, saying this week that blacklisting the Chinese company without proof will hurt the industry and disrupt new high-speed technology.

The U.S. delegation met with German officials in the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Friday, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Talks are at an early stage and no commitments have been made, according to one of the people.

Without naming Huawei, the U.S. embassy said its lobbying was part of routine efforts to warn allies about security risks to key infrastructure networks.

“The U.S. advocates for secure telecoms networks and supply chains that are free from suppliers subject to foreign government control or undue influence that poses risks of unauthorized access and malicious cyber activity,” Giordono-Scholz said.

German officials also are increasingly wary of the prospect of Huawei supplying 5G equipment. Merkel’s coalition government is looking at potential modifications to rules and standards that would affect the Chinese company, people familiar with the talks said in December.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.