SEOUL – The United States has shared its concern with South Korea about security risks related to China-made fifth-generation mobile network equipment, state-run Yonhap news agency reported on Friday, as Washington has been urging its allies to stop using Huawei products.
A US State Department spokesperson told the news agency that South Korea and all other countries should examine to what extent their 5G vendors “are subject to control by a foreign government, and whether governments have meaningful checks and balances to ensure the vendors’ cooperation with their intelligence and security agencies.”
“We are concerned that China could compel its equipment vendors to act against the interests of US citizens and citizens of other countries around the world if their equipment is in any part of a nation’s 5G network,” the spokesperson said.
Urging all countries to adopt a risk-based security framework for the construction of 5G networks, the spokesperson said the governments should review the supply chain of the vendors that would be part of their 5G infrastructure.
The US State Department’s statement confirms the information shared on Thursday by a South Korean official – who wished to remain anonymous – that Washington was apprehensive about Seoul, its Asian strategic ally, using Huawei’s components.
South Korea’s third-largest mobile carrier, LG Uplus, has used Huawei’s components in 95 percent of its around 15,000 of its base stations for the 5G networks.
The fifth-generation telecommunications came into functioning on April 5 in South Korea, making it the first country in the world to have the network for commercial purposes at the national level.
Last week, Washington imposed an executive order to impose a ban on Huawei and prohibiting US firms from doing business with foreign companies, citing security concerns.
Several US firms, including Google, have severed ties with the Chinese company after the ban that has caused Huawei to lose access to updates to the Android operating system on its smartphones, leaving the second largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world in a complicated situation.
The ban has not affected the South Korean telephone operators, whose catalogs include indigenous terminals.