Feb 16, 2020 - World

Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi on Feb. 16

Nancy Pelosi, Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

  • The Justice Department last week also announced a 16-count superseding indictment against Huawei and its CFO for racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets.
  • IP theft by Chinese companies is among the many issues that prompted President Trump to launch his trade war against China.

What she's saying: “This is about choosing autocracy over democracy on the information highway,” Pelosi said during a press conference, according to CNBC.

  • “It is about putting the state police in the pocket of every consumer in these countries, because of the Chinese way. And so, you ask about an alternative, and what I said a couple of days ago and yesterday, is that it should not be a Sinofication of the information highway but an internationalization of it.”
  • “It is a big price to pay in terms of national security, in terms of economy and in terms of our values and our governance. And that is why we have bipartisan support for this position. It is not about an economic advantage, it is about a values urgency: autocracy versus democracy. And we choose democracy.” 

The big picture: White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien and other officials claimed recently that the U.S. can prove that Huawei can covertly obtain data from networks that use its equipment. U.S. officials have been so far unsuccessful at convincing allies not to do business with Huawei.

  • The United Kingdom in January, despite repeated warnings from the U.S., announced that it is allowing Huawei to construct "non-core" parts of its 5G mobile networks, while banning the company from "sensitive locations" such as military or nuclear sites.
  • Lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union Party last week backed tougher rules on foreign vendors' access to the country's new mobile networks, but stopped short of banning Huawei as the U.S. recommended, Reuters reports.

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