Poland Could Ban Huawei Products After Worker Arrested

January 14, 2019 Updated: January 14, 2019

WARSAW—Poland may consider banning the use of Huawei products by public bodies, a senior government official said Jan. 13, following the arrest of a Chinese Huawei official in the east European country last week.

The Polish government could also look to tighten legislation to allow authorities to limit the availability of products made by any company deemed to pose a threat to security.

Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations, officials and sources told Reuters on Jan. 11, a move that could fuel Western security concerns about the telecoms equipment maker.

A government official responsible for cybersecurity told Reuters “abrupt” policy changes toward Huawei were not warranted after the arrests.

But he said the use of the company’s products by state entities could be reviewed.

“We will analyze whether … our decision can include an end to the use … of Huawei products,” Karol Okonski told Reuters.

“We do not have the legal means to force private companies or citizens to stop using any IT company’s products. It cannot be ruled out that we will consider legislative changes that would allow such a move,” he added.

A spokesman for Poland’s security services said Jan. 11 that the Polish official arrested by the country’s Internal Security Agency had been responsible for issuing security certificates for equipment used by public administration.

“(He) used to work for a number of public institutions, held important managerial positions and was also connected with … institutions that protect internal security,” he told public broadcaster TVP.

Seeking to distance itself from the incident, Huawei said Jan. 12 that the employee had been sacked, adding his “alleged actions have no relation to the company.”

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese regime and U.S.-led allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for spying.

No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the accusations, but several Western countries have restricted Huawei’s access to their markets.

Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudzinski, called for the European Union and NATO to work on a joint position over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets.

“We are examining the readiness of the (EU and NATO) countries to work on a joint position,” Okonski told Reuters referring to the new generation of 5G telecoms infrastructure.

Huawei has been banned in some form in a number of countries. The United States has banned the military and government agencies from using or purchasing equipment from Huawei and other Chinese companies. Huawei also is effectively blocked out of the domestic market.

Australia banned Huawei from providing 5G technology in August 2018, citing security risks. New Zealand followed suit in November. Japan also banned Huawei from official contracts in December.

In the UK, the nation’s largest telecommunications company BT said in December 2018 that it would not use Huawei for its upcoming 5G network, and it would also remove the company from the core of its existing 4G and 3G networks.

By Anna Koper & Justyna Pawlak. Epoch Times staff Cathy He also contributed to this article.