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Huawei Offers to Create Polish Security Lab to Ward Off 5G Bans

February 6, 2019, 12:10 PM UTC

Huawei has offered to open a security-testing facility in Poland, if the authorities will allow it.

The Chinese company, which is the biggest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, is having a hair-raising time on the trust front these days. Many intelligence agencies suspect that its equipment could provide Chinese spies with a surveillance conduit—a possibility that Huawei denies—and there’s an ever-increasing list of countries that won’t allow its equipment into future 5G mobile networks.

Poland is one of the countries that’s likely to shun Huawei, after its security services last month arrested a Chinese Huawei sales director for allegedly spying alongside a Polish employee of the telco Orange.

Desperate to avoid that fate, Huawei on Wednesday made its security center pitch.

“We are ready to establish a cybersecurity center in Poland if authorities accept this as a trusted solution,” Huawei Poland chief Tonny Bao said at a press conference, as reported by Reuters. Another executive chimed in that Poland’s government had no reason to lock Huawei out of 5G deployments.

Huawei already operates security labs in some countries, in order to assuage fears about its trustworthiness. It opened one last year in Bonn, Germany, and next month it’s due to launch a lab in Brussels, Belgium—the heart of EU-level policy-making. At these facilities, telecommunications network operators can come in and test Huawei’s equipment.

The company also owns a nine-year-old facility in the U.K. called the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, or HCSEC. This operates on another level, giving British intelligence workers—who comprise some of the staff there—the opportunity to peek inside Huawei’s equipment. It is more likely that the Polish lab, if the offer were to be accepted, would be for the benefit of telcos.

Earlier this week, it was reported that HCSEC will soon issue a report hammering Huawei over its security, and its failure to address previously-raised issues.

Separately, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Canada is more likely than not to ban Huawei from 5G rollouts, though it may delay the decision in the light of China’s detention of three Canadians. Canada last year arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who faced deportation to the U.S. on a variety of charges.

German ministers are also reportedly meeting on Wednesday to discuss what to do about Huawei’s involvement in the shift to 5G networks.

Countries that have effectively issued such bans include Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The U.S. has by many accounts been pressuring all its allies to follow suit.