U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence.

Reuters reports that the U.S., without mentioning Huawei by name, will “urge governments and operators to consider the legal environment in a vendor’s country, how much state support a company receives, transparency of corporate structure, and trustworthiness of equipment” and will also ask “partners to prioritize security and work together on investigations into cyberattacks aimed at 5G architecture.”

President Trump inked a bill in August that “barred the U.S. government itself from using Huawei and ZTE Corp equipment.”

The U.S. wants European governments to embrace so-called risk-based security frameworks — pointing to Germany’s recent adoption of stricter security standards for 5G manufacturers — believing that “doing so would effectively rule out using Huawei and ZTE.” “The United States welcomes engagement from partners and allies to discuss ways that we can work together ensuring that our 5G networks are reliable and secure,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis.

According to Czech cybersecurity agency NUKIB’s chief of cabinet Robert Kahofer, the Czech foreign ministry organized the conference with NUKIB’s support. China and Russia have not been invited, but “delegations from all of the European Union’s 28 member states, as well as the European Commission, NATO and around eight other countries including the United States and Australia are expected to attend.”

Kahofer nonetheless said the meeting is not “an anti-Huawei or anti-China conference.” Some ISPs believe that “banning Huawei would incur huge costs and delay the rollout of 5G by years.” U.K. officials “last month exposed new security flaws in Huawei equipment but says it has found no evidence of Chinese state interference.”