U.S. Leans on Korea Not to Use Chinese Telecom Equipment

  • By Kim Jin-myung, Kim Eun-joong

    October 15, 2020 11:00

    The U.S leaned on Korea in economic talks Wednesday not to use the products of Chinese telecom companies like Huawei.

    The U.S. has asked Korea through unofficial channels to take part in U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign to boycott Chinese telecom equipment, but this is the first time that such a request was made in an official meeting.

    The Korean government said it will consider the request and reminded the U.S. that the issue involves private businesses.

    Korea faces intensifying pressure from the U.S. to take part in its new Cold War against China, including joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or "Quad" -- Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. -- to counter Beijing's growing influence in the region.

    Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho and U.S. Under Secretary of State Keith Krach talked for two hours and 40 minutes in a video conference on Wednesday. The U.S. side also included Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan Marc Knapper and pushed Korea to join its "Clean Network" against Chinese telecom technology.

    The U.S. claims that Huawaei equipment is a security risk because it could leave open backdoors for spying. In Korea, SK Telecom and KT have already buckled and stopped dealing with Huawei, but LG Uplus continues to use Huawei equipment.

    Robert Strayer, another State Department official in charge of cyber security, said in July, "We would urge companies like LG Plus to migrate away from untrusted vendors to trusted vendors."

    A Foreign Ministry official said, "There were no negotiations detailing what products should be excluded. We need to consider the U.S. position further."

    Meanwhile, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, said on Monday during his visit to India that the Quad is open to other countries, voicing Washington's intention of expanding the group to mimic NATO. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the Quad as a "backward" and born of a "Cold War-style" mentality that foments conflict. China is considering the establishment of a new international standard for data security.

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