US lobbies Switzerland to drop Chinese telecom giant Huawei

Sunrise is working in Switzerland with Chinese tech giant Huawei on the new generation of "5G" mobile Internet connectivity. Keystone

The US has expressed concern over the use of Chinese technology in Switzerland, suggesting it may be used for espionage, reports the Sonntagszeitung newspaper. 

This content was published on March 17, 2019 minutes

Sonntagszeitung cited the Swiss foreign ministryExternal link as saying that the US embassy in Bern had conducted “an exchange of views on this subject at diplomatic level.” 

The embassy is cited as saying that Washington is "urging its friends and allies to ensure the security of 5G technology” with telecoms networks and providers that are not “under the control of foreign states.” 

Washington recently threatened to reduce intelligence cooperation with Germany if Berlin did not stop using such cooperation. US officials have reportedly approached other governments in their bid to contain the Chinese supplier.  

In Switzerland, the Sunrise telecom company plans to build a 5G network using Chinese technology provided by Huawei, which is already a major supplier. The Shenzhen-based company works with all major Swiss telecommunication companies.  

"5G" is the next, fifth-generation of super-fast Internet connectivity, which could be launched as early as next year in some countries.  

The Swiss foreign ministry cautioned that the government in Bern lacked “legal influence on the procurement of network components from foreign suppliers”, and that it is the responsibility of the company concerned – in this case Sunrise – to ensure the protection and security of its network in Switzerland, wrote Sonntagszeitung.

An editorialExternal link for the NZZ newspaper appeared sceptical of American efforts to curb cooperation with the Chinese company.  “Experts agree that 5G is of strategic importance for the coming decades,” it says. “One reason is that this technology should pave the way for driverless cars. With 5G, billions of sensors and machines will soon be connected to the Internet.” 

Huawei has repeatedly rejected American accusations of facilitating Chinese government eavesdropping through its hardware. Earlier this month, it sued the U.S. government in a Texas court over its exclusion from US government tenders.

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