A large group of US lawmakers and officials descended upon the Munich Security Conference, trying hard to yet again warn European allies of the dangers of Huawei-provided 5G and the threat to democracy it allegedly poses.
All of them, regardless of party affiliation, spoke against the Chinese tech giant – with even the US House Speaker and Donald Trump’s arch-enemy Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) sounding exactly like her hawkish Republican rivals, warning of the “digital autocracy” the company’s 5G networks might help to spread.
“Nations cannot cede telecommunications infrastructure to China for financial expediency,” Pelosi said on Friday. “Such an ill-conceived concession will only embolden [Chinese President Xi Jinping] as he undermines democratic values, human rights, economic independence and national security.”
While Pelosi’s remarks were slightly less fiery than Trump’s usual rhetoric on Huawei, her breathless warning was not without a hint of Cold War hysteria – deeming the spread of Huawei technology a “most insidious form of aggression,” that would allow the communications network to be “dominated by a government who does not share our values.”
“We must invest in other viable options that will take us into the future while preserving our values and institutions,” Pelosi stressed, vaguely calling on the West to create “something together” instead, with a focus on “freedom of information.”
All in all, Pelosi’s stance on Huawei was summed up by hawkish Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who leads one of the 7 US delegations present at the Munich conference. “Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump see Huawei the same,” he explained, in case anyone had missed the obvious.
The unified panic among US lawmakers was mocked by a Chinese legislator, present at the event, who said their preoccupation with Huawei suggested American “democracy” could not be very durable if its very existence was threatened by a cell phone network.
this is getting lively. Member of China Peoples’ Congress on @Huawei “Are you so afraid the democracy system is so fragile it would be swept away by this company?”Schauble: if we want to secure freedom you need diversification to beat monopolies. #MSC2020
— Judy Dempsey (@Judy_Dempsey) February 14, 2020
Trump’s assault on Huawei, which largely came amid a US-China trade war, culminated last May, when the US president signed an executive order effectively banning the Chinese firm, declaring it a dire threat to “national security.” More recently, the Justice Department indicted the company on a federal racketeering charge earlier this week, accusing it of stealing US technology by way of “fraud and deception.”
Apart from attacking the company on the homefront, Washington has also pressed its European allies into severing ties with Huawei, which currently operates in the telecom sector of several EU countries. Those efforts have seen little success, however.
Germany has pushed back against Washington’s hostile stance on Huawei, with Chancellor Angela Merkel stating that Berlin would not stop engaging with any business “simply because it’s from a certain country.” Late in January, Trump’s war on Huawei received yet another blow as the UK allowed the firm to continue limited participation in building the country’s 5G network.
Huawei, for its part, has repeatedly denied all allegations about its supposed hidden spying agenda and the alleged dangers of its 5G, arguing that US efforts to villainize the company were merely compensation for a lagging American tech sector, unable to challenge the Chinese up-and-comer in fair market competition.
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