In a sudden turnaround, Poland now says it will replace Huawei with European or US suppliers in wake of spy arrest
Poland’s government has indicated it plans to oust Huawei from its 5G network plans, in a hardening of the country’s stance following the arrest earlier this month of an alleged spy who had been employed by the Chinese company.
The country’s president, Andrzej Duda, told website money.pl he the country was set to remove Huawei from its plans in favour of European or US firms.
“I’m definitely closer to cooperating with European firms or with those from the US than with producers from Asia,” Duda said.
A Polish government official confirmed that the country is planning to exclude Huawei as a result of the spying arrest.
‘End of the discussion’
“Arresting a spy means end of the discussion,” the unnamed official told Reuters. “I think the Chinese will not be present in 5G in Poland.”
Officials didn’t indicate who might supplant Huawei, but Nokia and Ericsson, of Finland and Sweden respectively, are two of Europe’s front-runners in the networking industry.
Poland is Eastern Europe’s largest economy and is considered a critical market for 5G in the region.
Huawei has until now, as in other European countries, played a significant role in the development of Poland’s telecoms infrastructure, and supplied the equipment for both of the country’s first two 5G networks, launched by T-Mobile and Orange last month.
The company is also expected to build a new science and technology centre near Warsaw.
Earlier this month, Polish officials arrested two men on spying charges, a Huawei manager and a former Polish counter-intelligence officer.
The men, both of whom have denied the charges, can be held for up to three months and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The former Huawei staff member, who under Polish law can be identified only as Weijing W., said through his lawyer that he had lived in Poland for more than 12 years, and was hired at Huawei’s Polish unit in 2011 as a public relations manager.
A senior government official told the South China Morning Post over the weekend that the government may also ban the use of Huawei products by public bodies.
The remarks are a significant hardening of Poland’s stance.
Immediately following the arrests, Karol Okonski, Poland’s cyber security minister, said an “abrupt” policy change toward Huawei was not warranted by the arrests, while Poland’s internal affairs minister said Poland wanted “relations with China that are good, intensive and attractive for both sides”.
Huawei has been battling pressure from the US that has seen a number of countries, including the UK, issue warnings about the national security implications of using Huawei gear, particularly in next-generation mobile networks.
Huawei has denied that it poses a security risk and has said it has never carried out spying activities for China.