House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Feb. 16 that accepting Chinese domination of 5G through tech giant Huawei would be “choosing autocracy versus democracy,” as she addressed journalists on the last day of the annual Munich Security Conference.
“It is about putting the state police in the pocket of every consumer,” she said on Sunday. “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.”
Pelosi’s remarks underlined bipartisan suspicion of Huawei in the United States.
The Trump administration has raised national security concerns about Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and seeks to convince Western allies to bar the company from wireless, high-speed networks.
U.S. officials at the security conference urged governments and business leaders over the weekend to build an ecosystem of “industry champions” that can provide alternatives to Huawei.
Trump administration officials, including Cabinet secretaries, say Huawei can give the Chinese regime backdoor access to data. The United States has been trying to have European nations ban the gear from next-generation cellular networks, but countries are shying away from banning it altogether.
Britain, notably, announced last month that it would allow Huawei to participate in certain non-sensitive areas of its networks, and European Union 5G guidelines fall far short of addressing U.S. concerns.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are also at the Munich conference.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) emphasized broad agreement in the United States that “Huawei technology is a threat to the United States and, we really think, to world order.”
“Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump are probably not going to have many dinners together but, if you ask them about British purchase of Huawei, they’ll give you the same answer,” Graham said.
“We owe it to the world, all of us do, to give you an alternative—we just can’t say no forever to 5G,” he added. “But we are very firm in our commitment, Republicans and Democrats, that if you go down the Huawei road, you’re going to burn a lot of bridges.”
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report