The Polish division of Huawei offered to build a cybersecurity center in the European country as its proposed resolution of a spying scandal that emerged last month after one of its employees was arrested on spying charges.
While speaking to reporters earlier this week, Huawei Poland CEO Tonny Bao said the firm is prepared for such an investment so long as Warsaw accepts it as a "trusted solution" to the problem at hand.
The Spy Who Worked For Me
Last month, the company's Polish unit fired sales manager Wang Weijing after he was arrested on spying charges, having made the move even before the defendant appeared in front of a competent judge and pleaded not guilty. He was detained by local authorities together with a state security official suspected of collusion with the first accused. The firing was a clear signal that Huawei is distancing itself from the incident but Warsaw is still understood to be considering a formal warning against working with the Chinese firm to Polish companies.
Poland will also almost certainly exclude Huawei from its efforts to build 5G infrastructure, according to new reports. Other European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Czech Republic are currently pondering the same move, industry sources said in recent weeks. Beyond the Old Continent, Huawei-made equipment is already banned for federal use in the United States which is currently pressuring its allies into following suit.
Australia did precisely that last summer, whereas many other countries such as Canada, Japan, and South Korea are reportedly close to doing the same. Huawei remains the world's largest telecom equipment maker but spying concerns may create a significant dent in its business; without access to some of the world's richest markets, the company could eventually cede its leadership to one of Nokia or Ericsson.
Over in the UK, Huawei is planning a $2 billion cybersecurity investment after a government report raised numerous issues with its wireless equipment, though the conglomerate only did so following months of heavy public pressure, having originally downplayed the findings. The British division of Huawei estimates London will see palpable results of its investment within five years, according to recent media reports citing a company letter to the UK government.
The growing Western distrust toward Huawei is twofold. First, it's based on a long history of issues the company had with foreign governments and entities, particularly in the United States. Secondly, it stems from a piece of legislation called the National Intelligence Law that China passed in 2017.
The bill compels all private entities and citizens in the Far Eastern country to be fully cooperative when in state-sponsored intelligence activities. Many current and former diplomats, cybersecurity experts, and politicians are pointing to the said legislation as evidence that Beijing can force Huawei to spy on its customers whenever it pleases, even assuming the firm never indulged in any shady activity in support of China in the past.
Due to that state of affairs and the fact that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is still at the center of an international scandal that left her fighting a U.S. extradition request in Canada over charges concerning fraud and conspiracy to violate Washington-issued embargoes, it's unlikely that many Western countries will embrace its products and 5G technologies solely due to extra cybersecurity investments.