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Poland considers Huawei ban after spying arrest

Poland could consider prohibiting the use of Huawei products after one of its employees was arrested on suspicion of espionage, according to reports.

Two men working in the Polish telecommunications industry were detained on Friday; a Chinese man employed by telecommunications giant Huawei, and a Polish national who is reportedly a former counter-intelligence officer.

The Chinese foreign ministry said it was “highly concerned” about the arrest of its national Wang Weijing – formerly an attache at the Chinese consulate in Gdansk – and said that countries should end their “fabrications” about security risks posed by Huawei.

The Chinese firm quickly terminated Mr Weijing’s employment contract following his arrest, saying he had brought the firm into disrepute.

Over the last decade, the company has quickly risen to become the dominant global telecommunications equipment supplier, buoyed by cheap manufacturing in China and Beijing’s support.

Huawei is the largest tech firm in China
Huawei has risen to become the dominant global telecommunications equipment supplier

Huawei is currently battling concerns about its equipment potentially exposing Western telecommunications infrastructure to hostile actions from Beijing.

Despite this, Reuters reported that a spokesman for the Polish security services said the allegations related to individual actions and were not linked directly to Huawei.

Karol Okonski, the Polish minister in charge of cyber security, told the news agency that an “abrupt” policy change towards the Chinese telecommunications company was not warranted after the arrests.

However Mr Okonski added that Poland could review whether sensitive government enterprises could use Huawei equipment, stating: “We will analyse whether… our decision can include an end to the use… of Huawei products.”

Poland’s internal affairs minister has also called for a joint EU-NATO position on excluding the company, although he did not suggest what that position should be.

Asked for a response to the call, a NATO official told Sky News: “NATO takes cyber security very seriously. We continue to boost our cyber defences and support allies as they strengthen their national cyber defences. Allies also consult regularly on cyber challenges and threats.”

Meng Wanzhou is a long-serving executive at Huawei. Pic: Huawei
Meng Wanzhou is a long-serving executive at Huawei. Pic: Huawei

Last month, US prosecutors charged Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, with fraud.

It is alleged she used Hong Kong company Skycom to access the Iranian market in deals that violated US sanctions.

Separately, authorities in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have spoken about Huawei’s telecommunications equipment posing a potential espionage risk to their national networks.

Security threats from Chinese companies contributing to 5G networks could end up “putting all of us at risk” if they are not tackled quickly, a former UK security minister warned last year.

Speaking to Sky News, Admiral Lord West, a former First Sea Lord who served under Gordon Brown as a security minister, urged the government to set up a unit reporting directly to the prime minister to monitor the risk posed by Chinese equipment in 5G.

5G has been hailed as the next great leap for mobile communications, enabling everything from smart cities to hologram calls.

However, the best 5G technology comes from Chinese companies, raising fears that China’s government could have ground-level access to and potentially control over the UK’s critical infrastructure.

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