By Anthony Deutsch
THEHAGUE (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador Pete Hoekstra said on Wednesday the Dutch government should ban Huawei outright from supplying equipment for a new 5G mobile telecommunications network in the Netherlands if it wants to prevent spying by the Chinese state.
Leaders in the Netherlands have not yet taken a position on using Huawei technology ahead of a 5G network auction process due to begin in coming months.
Hoekstra made his comments as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finished a tour of Western European countries, including Germany and Britain, which have also resisted U.S. calls for an ban after Washington blacklisted Huawei.
Huawei has repeatedly denied all allegations of espionage and last month said it was the victim of U.S. bullying.
Hoekstra, a former chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee who was appointed as ambassador to the Netherlands by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018, called for a high-level Dutch political decision barring Huawei from all aspects of the network.
In April, the Dutch government established a task force to evaluate the vulnerability of 5G telecommunications networks to misuse by technology vendors.
“They are saying they are going to come out with a recommendation on the technical specifications that will protect that data,” Hoekstra said in an interview on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference in The Hague.
“We think that may not be the best approach to take, that the first question you need to answer is… .Do you really want to turn this technology over?”
Using Huawei equipment on a new Dutch network would be “a bad, bad idea and a bad direction to go,” he said.
Telecom firm Royal KPN NV, set to play a leading role in the Dutch rollout of 5G in coming years, said it would exclude Huawei from “core” elements of the network.
But Hoekstra said that doesn’t go far enough and that using any Huawei technology would create a vulnerability that could be exploited by the Chinese government.
“When they own the system and it’s a Huawei system, not only does Huawei own the system, the Chinese government will own the system and they will own what goes on it,” he said.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, William Maclean)