BARCELONA, Spain – The United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday that it will use Huawei's Chinese technology giant's equipment to build a new high-speed wireless network, despite pressure from the United States to avoid the company's products.
The announcement at a major European trade conference was another setback for the US-led campaign to persuade countries to limit the use of Huawei hardware in next generation wireless networks, called 5G . The Trump administration claims that Huawei's equipment creates a cybersecurity risk that the Chinese government may exploit for espionage or sabotage, which Huawei has denied with force.
But the detailed plan by the UAE's public telecommunications company, Etisalat, was the latest indication that US authorities were struggling to persuade other countries to accept their opposition to Huawei, the world's largest maker of equipment. telecommunications.
The United Arab Emirates is a reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East and a major buyer of US military equipment.
Much of the US lobbying campaign against Huawei has been focused on Europe, where Huawei sells antennas, base stations and other equipment used in telecommunication networks. Last week, the UK authorities said they did not believe a blanket ban on Huawei was needed to secure the country's wireless networks. The Czech Republic, France, Germany and Poland are also considering restrictions on Huawei.
The United Arab Emirates made this announcement at the annual conference of the wireless industry, MWC Barcelona. The event, attended by more than 100,000 people from more than 2,000 companies, became a referendum on Huawei. The United States has sent a delegation of representatives of the state, trade and defense ministries to meet with representatives of telecommunications companies and governments to warn against the use of Huawei equipment.
On Tuesday, the conference was host of two-time press conferences between Huawei and the United States.
In the morning, Guo Ping, Huawei's current chairman, said the charges against the company were unfounded and that she would never allow her equipment to be used for espionage.
"Huawei has not planted and will not plant," he said. "And we will never allow anyone to do it with our equipment."
In the afternoon, US officials convened a hastily-held press conference to reiterate their concerns. Citing a Chinese law requiring companies to work with the government on national security issues, Robert L. Strayer, ambassador of international and online communications, said countries should be wary of their collaboration with Huawei.
The confrontation follows a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week that countries that allow Huawei in its 5G networks could be prevented from sharing information with the United States.
But the threats did not win any new restrictions against Huawei. One frustration among those who have met with US officials is the lack of evidence indicating how Huawei could pose a cyber security risk.
The United Arab Emirates said Huawei would help build 300 5G towers in the first half of this year. Financial details were not disclosed.
On Tuesday, Guo said people were right to ask questions about the security of new wireless networks, but added that the United States also deserves careful scrutiny for its past behavior.
"It's an important question to ask," he said. "And if you do not understand this question, go ask Edward Snowden." Mr. Snowden, a former government contractor, fled the United States in 2013 after revealing an extensive surveillance program on the Internet by US spy agencies and their allies.