During his official visit in Budapest, Hungary, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it clear that Washington would be forced to reconsider some of its operations in Europe and beyond if countries keep doing business with the Chinese telecoms gear manufacturer Huawei.
Pompeo raised the question during a press conference in the Hungarian capital, where he started his Central European trip Monday. As part of it, he would visit Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland. On Wednesday, he would join Vice President Pence in Warsaw to attend a conference on Middle East security.
According to senior government officials in Washington, Pompeo would try to make up for the insufficient U.S. presence in the region, which reportedly opened the doors to increased Chinese and Russian influences.
Contrary to the Obama administration which shunned Hungary's rightwing prime minister Viktor Orbán, the Trump government has taken a new approach, focusing on engagement and not on criticism. During his diplomatic talks, Pompeo would try to make progress on the long-stalled new defense cooperation agreement between the US and Hungary.
Before leaving for Slovakia and Poland, Pompeo would talk to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán to express the US concerns over the strong national and regional presence on Huawei and the associated information security risks.
Huawei confirmed it was currently serving 70 percent of the Hungarians. In addition to that, it also has been collaborating with most of the telecom operators in the country, including state-owned firms.
Apart from discussing Huawei with Orbán, Pompeo would also touch upon topics such as the rule of law, human rights, and democracy, for which the European Commission has heavily criticized the Hungarian prime minister.
According to internal sources in Washington, Pompeo would also bring Russia on the table with Orbán stressing on the bilateral energy ties. Russia is the biggest gas provider in Hungary. Furthermore, Moscow is one of the leading investors in the Paks nuclear power plant, which is the primary domestic source of electricity.
Besides that, Pompeo would also meet numerous civil society groups in Budapest to discuss the country's immigration policy as well as the forceful moving of the George Soros-funded Central European University to Vienna.
In response to the widespread Western concerns about Huawei, Slovakia and Hungary commented they had no fears about the company. Moreover, the Chinese telecom giant has established its European operations and maintenance center in Hungary. Since 2005, the telecom gear manufacturer has invested over EUR 1 billion in the country.
Do you think that the our NATO partners in Europe should reconsider their business ties with Huawei?