Pelosi joins Trump in warning Europe of Huawei’s 5G threat

Anna Edgerton and Iain Rogers

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed President Donald Trump’s assessment of the threat posed by countries using Huawei Technologies Co. equipment to build 5G networks, a rare moment of bipartisan agreement after the bitter fight over impeachment.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Pelosi warned European allies that it would be dangerous to allow a company with connections to the Chinese government to build global information networks, echoing some of the points the administration has been trying to drive home with American partners.

“Nations cannot cede telecommunications infrastructure to China for financial expediency,” Pelosi said. Speaking about Chinese President Xi Jinping, she said such an “ill-conceived concession will only embolden Xi as he undermines democratic values, human rights, economic independence and national security.”

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, speaks on the first day of the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb.14, 2020.

The strong words from a Democratic Party leader offered a point of accordance with the president the week after the Republican-led Senate acquitted him on the House’s two articles of impeachment. Joining with the president in identifying a common threat could be a useful political pivot for Pelosi as her House members prepare to run for re-election in a political environment mostly defined by divisions.

“In terms of some of these issues like Huawei, we have bi-partisan agreement on that,” Pelosi said. “I always say to members: don’t be against something because President Trump might be for it. If there happens to be collateral benefit so be it, and let’s all share in the responsibility to do something and the credit when we get it done.”

Don’t Go With Huawei

The Trump administration has lobbied European allies to reject Huawei equipment as they invest in the next generation of technology. Pelosi said Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. agree that Huawei poses a threat to democratic values.

“If you want a free flow of information, if you want to build a collective conscience of values and respect for human rights, don’t go with Huawei,” Pelosi said.

The U.K. and the European Union introduced policies last month that allow Huawei’s partial participation in next-generation wireless networks. Trump responded by berating U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having spent months trying to persuade the British government not to allow the Chinese company to take a role in fast 5G networks.

German officials have also grappled with where to draw the line on using Huawei equipment.

“Allowing the Sinification of 5G would be to choose autocracy over democracy,” Pelosi said in Munich. “We must instead move to an internationalization of digital infrastructure that does not enable an autocracy. We must invest in other viable options that will take is into the future while preserving our values and institutions.”

Pelosi said “most insidious form of aggression” is for a country like China to infiltrate technology infrastructure with a company “dominated by an autocratic government that does not share our values.”

The California Democrat urged European leaders to plan for the next generation of technology by building “something together that will be about freedom of information.”

“I tell you, unequivocally and without any hesitation,” Pelosi said of Huawei technology, “be very careful when you go down this path unless you want to end up with a society like China.”

With assistance from Todd Shields.