U.S. Prods Korea to Join Anti-Huawei Campaign

  • By Roh Suk-jo

    May 23, 2019 10:10

    The U.S. repeatedly asked Korea to take part in its anti-Huawei campaign, a diplomatic source in Seoul said Wednesday.

    "The U.S. keeps telling the Foreign Ministry through various diplomatic channels that using Huawei products could create security problems," the source said.

    A U.S. State Department official recently met a Korean Foreign Ministry official and pointed out that LG Uplus uses Huawei-manufactured equipment, and said the telecom's mobile services must be restricted in "sensitive areas" within Korea, presumably where there are U.S. military installations.

    /EPA-Yonhap

    The U.S. claims that Huawei equipment comes with backdoors to allow the Chinese government to spy on users, but China says the claim is part of U.S. President Donald Trump's trade war against it.

    The U.S. official added that Huawei must ultimately be driven out of Korea. The Foreign Ministry acknowledged the U.S. government's concerns but expressed reservations, saying the government cannot intervene in the affairs of private businesses.

    The bigger fear is that curbing imports of Huawei equipment could prompt Beijing to retaliate. Already Japan, Australia and New Zealand have joined the U.S.' anti-Huawei campaign, and a minor scandal erupted in the U.K. over whether it was going to join.

    According to industry insiders, Korean businesses could suffer billions of U.S. dollars in losses if Huawei imports are halted, and the damage could escalate stratospherically if China retaliates.

    The U.S. also asked the Foreign Ministry here to persuade Samsung to make sure that Huawei equipment does not spread any further in East Asia.

    The U.S. State Department is even holding a closed-door workshop in Bangkok, Thailand with Korean Foreign Ministry officials and business representatives to look for ways to tap into the communication equipment market in Southeast Asia.

    One former diplomat warned, "Korea is at risk once again of getting trapped between the U.S. and China after a dispute over a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery."

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