The U.S. and China have been at loggerheads over multiple issues. Considering the access to information that technology companies hold, Huawei has been in the U.S. spotlight for a long time. The U.S. government believes that any data with Huawei is not safe. It also believes that Huawei is fully under the control of the Chinese government. To this end, it has banned Huawei from its 5G network construction. In addition, it is also using its global influence to convince other countries to also ban Huawei. While many countries have actually banned Huawei, there are still many that do not believe the U.S. resolve.
According to South Korean media reports, a South Korean diplomat revealed that in the fifth South Korea-U.S. strategic economic dialogue held on October 14, the U.S. side reiterated the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s proposed “clean network” plan, in the name of national security risks, to pressure South Korea to stop using Huawei and other Chinese technology companies’ 5G equipment.
Previously, the U.S. had already put Korea Telecom and SK Telecom, two major telecom operators in Korea, on the list of so-called “clean telecom companies” that do not use Huawei equipment. It also requires LG Uplus, another operator, to stop using Huawei equipment as soon as possible.
The U.S. is still pushing for Huawei’s ban in South Korea
However, the South Korean official responded by saying that the choice of equipment and technology used by telecom operators is the company’s own and that the South Korean government will not interfere with the decisions of private companies.
The official said that he had explained his basic position to the U.S. The discussion involves the need to have a “clean network,”. However, he reiterates that the U.S. request for the exclusion of a particular company is not part of the talks.
On July 28, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha had declared that South Korea would “maintain strategic openness while working to maintain technological security” in the technology sector.
But some South Korean diplomats say it is still “debatable” how long the South Korean position can last.
South Korea will not be the first country that does not wish to interfere with the equipment that operators use. Recall that the U.K. initially did not want to interfere. However, it eventually bowed to the U.S. pressure and banned Huawei.