Poland to Consider Ban on Huawei Products After Employee Arrested on Charges of Spying for China

Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations, a move that could fuel Western security concerns about the telecoms equipment maker

Logo of Huawei is seen in front of the local offices of Huawei in Warsaw, Poland January 11, 2019.
\ KACPER PEMPEL/ REUTERS

Poland could consider a ban on the use of Huawei products by public bodies, a senior government official said on Sunday, following the arrest of a Chinese Huawei official in the east European country last week.

The Polish government could also look to tighten legislation to allow the authorities to limit the availability of products made by any company deemed to pose a threat to security.

Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations, officials and sources told Reuters on Friday, a move that could fuel Western security concerns about the telecoms equipment maker.

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A government official who is responsible for cyber security told Reuters “abrupt” policy changes toward Huawei were not warranted after the arrests.

But he said the use of the company’s products by state entities could be reviewed.

“We will analyze whether ... our decision can include an end to the use ... of Huawei products,” Karol Okonski told Reuters.

“We do not have the legal means to force private companies or citizens to stop using any IT company’s products. It cannot be ruled out that we will consider legislative changes that would allow such a move,” he added.

Seeking to distance itself from the incident, Huawei said on Saturday it had sacked the employee.

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with China’s government and U.S.-led allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for spying.

No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the accusations, but several Western countries have restricted Huawei’s access to their markets.

Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudzinski, called for the European Union and NATO to work on a joint position over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets.

“We are examining the readiness of the [EU and NATO] countries to work on a joint position,” Okonski told Reuters referring to the new generation of 5G telecoms infrastructure.

Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou is currently awaiting extradition in Canada following U.S.-accusations that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. Authorities allege that Wanzhou deceived international banks into clearing transactions by claiming that two companies that operated in Iran and Syria were independent of Huawei, when in fact Huawei controlled them.

The Trump administration has also taken a series of steps aimed at curbing market penetration by Huawei Technologies Cos Ltd and ZTE Corp, two of China’s biggest network equipment makers. Both companies have denied that their products are used to spy.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton raised U.S. concerns about the use of Chinese telecommunications equipment in sensitive sectors during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We are all concerned about theft of intellectual property and Chinese telecoms companies that are being used by China for intelligence-gathering purposes,” said a senior administration official who was briefed on the talks.

Shin Bet security service chief Nadav Argaman has also warned that Chinese investments in Israel could put state security at risk. Argaman said legislation was needed so these investments could be supervised, citing Chinese interests in infrastructure projects like the Haifa Port and the Dan Region light rail.