As the United States government continues to lobby around the world for stricter security surrounding the installation of 5G infrastructure, it has announced a new ally, in the shape of the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic and the United States have signed the joint declaration for cooperating on security of 5G technology, which effectively sidelines Chinese technology companies such as ZTE and Huawei. According to AP, the Czech government office said the document was signed remotely by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Protecting communications networks from disruption or manipulation, and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the United States and the Czech Republic, are vital to ensuring that our people are able to take advantage of the tremendous economic opportunities 5G will enable,” the declaration reads.
Stuck in the middle with EU
The United States has been putting pressure on countries within the EU to follow its lead in sidelining Chinese 5G technology, in favour of what it claims to be more secure vendors.
And the White House is currently working with 5G technology companies including Microsoft, Dell and AT&T to develop an alternative to Huawei 5G. Due to potential 5G security risks, the US has banned Chinese technology giant Huawei – currently the leader in the 5G infrastructure market – from supplying 5G infrastructure to the US telecom network. Huawei was placed on the Department of Commerce’s "entity list" in May 2019, which severely restricts its ability to do business with US companies.
In October 2019 the Czech Republic's cybersecurity agency issued a warning against Huawei and ZTE products, arguing that Chinese law required companies to "cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat".
Huawei refuted the claims, stating that it is not required to include backdoors in its products, nor has the company ever received any requests to do so. Shortly afterward, prime minister Andrej Babiš ordered that government offices cease using Huawei and ZTE products, but the ban was reversed.