U.S., Poland sign joint document on 5G technology co-operation
People stand next to a 5G logo during the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 28, 2018. (Francisco Seco / AP)
WARSAW, Poland -- The U.S. and Poland signed an agreement on Monday to co-operate on new 5G technology amid growing concerns about Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
Vice-President Mike Pence and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed the deal in Warsaw, where Pence is filling in for President Donald Trump, who scrapped his trip at the last minute because of Hurricane Dorian.
The signing comes amid a global battle between the U.S. and Huawei, the world's biggest maker of network infrastructure equipment, over network security.
The agreement endorses the principles developed by cybersecurity officials from dozens of countries at a summit in Prague earlier this year to counter threats and ensure the safety of next generation mobile networks.
"Protecting these next generation communications networks from disruption or manipulation and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the United States, Poland, and other countries is of vital importance," the agreement says.
Pence said the agreement would "set a vital example for the rest of Europe."
At a joint news conference with Pence, Polish President Andrzej Duda was asked whether the U.S. has provided Poland with evidence of China ever spying using Huawei technology.
"Indeed, Poland's counter-intelligence has detected activity that could be of espionage nature" and the prosecutors are investigating, Duda said, standing alongside Pence.
A Chinese businessman who served as Huawei sales director in Poland and a Pole who co-operated with the government on security measures were arrested in Poland in January on suspicion of espionage.
The U.S. has been lobbying allies to ban Huawei from 5G networks over concerns China's government could force the company to give it access to data for cyberespionage. Huawei has denied the allegation.
The U.S. has called for an outright ban on Huawei, but European allies have balked at that.
A senior Trump administration official told reporters during a briefing ahead of the trip that the agreement would help ensure secure supply chains and networks and protect against unauthorized access or interference by telecommunications suppliers, some of which are controlled by "adversarial governments."
During a visit to Sweden last week, Morawiecki said decisions were being taken that would make Swedish networking and telecommunications company Ericsson invest in 5G development in Poland.