U.S. and Poland urge tougher checks on foreign influence over 5G networks

WARSAW (Reuters) - The United States and Poland believe suppliers of 5G network equipment should be rigorously evaluated for foreign government control, a joint declaration signed on Monday said, as Washington pressures allies to exclude China from 5G networks.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speak during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland September 2, 2019. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has denied U.S. accusations that its equipment provides back doors for Beijing’s intelligence agencies, at a time when the two nations are embroiled in a trade war.

Huawei has a strong foothold in Poland, a close ally of President Donald Trump’s administration, and has featured national soccer hero Robert Lewandowski in its advertising.

“All countries must ensure only trusted and reliable suppliers participate in networks,” the declaration, signed by U.S. Vice President Michael Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw, said.

The declaration says it is important to ascertain whether a supplier is subject to control by a foreign government, has a transparent ownership structure and transparent corporate practices.

Huawei remains under scrutiny in Poland, where authorities arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations in January.

Huawei denies the spying allegations.

“Polish security services have conducted and are conducting activities in this regard and they detected actions which may be qualified as actions of an espionage character,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said during a news conference with Pence.


Pence said he had spoken with Duda about the importance of judicial independence, but did not offer any direct criticism of Poland’s record.

The country’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which Duda comes from, pushed through a range of powers that rights groups and the European Commission said threatened the rule of law and increased the government’s control over Polish courts.

“As I told president Duda, we are grateful for his commitment to strengthening the foundations of the rule of law in Poland,” Pence said.

Pence also said Washington was nearing a decision on including Poland in the country’s visa waiver program, adding it was a “matter of weeks”.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Alan Charlish and Frances Kerry