SEOUL, May 23 (Korea Bizwire) — The United States has stressed to South Korea the security of fifth-generation mobile network equipment, an official at Seoul’s foreign ministry said Thursday, in an apparent move against China’s telecom giant Huawei.
A local newspaper reported earlier in the day that the U.S. Department of State has called on the Seoul government multiple times to support what appears to be a campaign against the Chinese firm.
“The U.S. side has underscored the importance of ensuring the security of fifth-generation equipment, and we are aware of such a stance,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“South Korea and the U.S. have continued to discuss that issue. But we call for your understanding as we cannot go into detail about the content of the consultations,” he added.
Citing a diplomatic source, the South Korean daily, Chosun Ilbo, reported that through diplomatic channels, Washington has continued to express concerns to Seoul’s foreign ministry that there could be “security problems” should its Asian ally use Huawei products.
The report also noted that a State Department official specifically named LG Uplus, South Korea’s third-biggest mobile carrier that uses the components produced by Huawei and argued that the company should not be allowed to provide its communications service in “sensitive areas.”
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency under an executive order that effectively bans American companies from using foreign telecoms thought to pose national security risks — in a move seen as targeting Huawei.
Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei to its “entity list” that prohibits the Chinese firm from getting technology from U.S. enterprises without government permission. But early this week, Washington gave Huawei a three-month reprieve, allowing it to buy U.S. equipment until Aug. 19.
The saga came in the context of an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China that some observers say appears to have partially been driven by their competition over the global technological preeminence.