Philippines ignores US warning on Huawei

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Philippines ignores US warning on Huawei
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines is not concerned about the controversy surrounding the Chinese tech giant’s 5G technology.

MANILA, Philippines — A Cabinet member has admitted that the Philippines has not taken significant measures on the US warning about the security risks posed by Huawei’s 5G technology on the country, saying “the coast is clear.”

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines is not concerned about the controversy surrounding the Chinese tech giant’s 5G technology.

“We are not doing anything on that one. We always mention that we are a free, sovereign country and we will do what we will have to do especially when it comes to economic development and promote things and pushing for inclusive economic growth,” Lopez said when asked about US pressure to ban Huawei 5G network.

“That is the mandate from our President. China is a good partner in many aspects and our number one trading partner,” he said.

The US had warned Huawei, which makes 5G technology, could hand over data to the Chinese government and countries risk losing access to intelligence-sharing.

Lopez said the Philippines appreciates the development happening in such technology – 5G and the inroads Huawei is making in this field. 

“Obviously we shall tap the best technology that we can. There is no concern on anything, on security. Every time this issue is raised, it always boils down to … have you proven anything yet?” Lopez remarked on the sidelines of the “China-Philippines Summit: Shaping the Future” on Friday.

“Have you seen really that thing happening? I’m not sure. I do not know, unless we have seen this thing really happening. So far the coast is clear,” he added.

Lopez described the Philippines and China relations as in the “spring of relationship.”

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) earlier said the Philippines is not inclined to block Huawei from its network without scientific or engineering evidence that would prove it is engaged in espionage or data exfiltration.

Assistant Secretary Allan Cabanlong of DICT cybersecurity and enabling technologies said they do not see Huawei posing security threat and could not block the Chinese firm from any network in the Philippines nor limit the use of its equipment in the absence of evidence.

Countries have been warned about the cyber threat of China’s participation in the development of 5G telecommunications system and the possibility of access to hidden data by foreign IT equipment and serious security breach.

Following its warning on the Philippines on the risks associated with Huawei, the US is in the process of routinely engaging its allies and partners to provide them with information and exercise vigilance to secure their own telecom networks and protect their people from unauthorized access and malicious cyber activity.

The US Department of State said Washington has spoken about Huawei regularly in past days, highlighted by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s visits to other countries.

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