The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Huawei: OPM non-committal on allegations, points to ongoing EU discussions

Jeremy Micallef Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 08:09 Last update: about 2 years ago

Discussions on cyber matters cannot be divulged, but as matters stand there are no official positions from the EU when it comes to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) told this newspaper.

Following the US charging China tech-giant Huawei, a top company executive and several subsidiaries, the OPM insisted that Malta is actively participating in discussions on the matter within the structures of the Council of the EU.

“Discussions on cyber issues are classified by the Council, and therefore details of the ongoing discussions on cyber matters cannot be divulged.

However, up till now, there are no official positions neither by the European Commission, by the Council nor by the European Parliament.”

The government has previously released statements saying that there will be no change in the current relationship. This after countries such as the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand all expressed concerns with regards to the potential national security risks.

Malta has signed 3 memorandums of understandings with Huawei – one in 2015 for the trial of 5G technology on the island, for which Malta business envoy to Asia Sai Mizzi Lang was given credit.

The second in 2016 was, again, on a pilot project on mobile technology in Malta which also included a joint research innovation centre in the area of public security called “Safe City” and the opportunity for five Maltese students to attend a two-week ICT course in China once a year.

‘Safe City’ includes the potential implementation of AI-driven facial recognition technology in cameras.

The third was in 2018 to see the trial of 5G technology introduced to Maltese businesses and citizens.

Huawei is also involved in the ‘safe city’ pilot projected, which was the implementation of cameras backed with AI-driven facial recognition technology which will be able to recognise individuals’ faces as they move in a crowd.

The American Justice Department is alleging the company stole trade secrets, misled banks about its business and violated US sanctions. The sweeping indictments accuse the company of using extreme efforts to steal trade secrets from American businesses — including trying to take a piece of a robot from a T-Mobile lab.

The executive charged is Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada last month. The US is seeking to extradite her, alleging she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran.

David Martin, Meng's lawyer in Canada, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Meng is out on bail in Vancouver and her case is due back in court Tuesday as she awaits extradition proceedings to begin.

Huawei is the world's biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies and has long been seen as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services.

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