Pelosi Urges Countries Not to ‘Choose Autocracy over Democracy’ by Investing in China’s Huawei

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged countries on Friday to avoid investing in Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest telecom firm, when building their new cellular networks, warning that to do so would be to “choose autocracy over democracy.”

© Yuri Gripas/Reuters House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, February 11, 2020.

“China is seeking to export its digital autocracy through its telecommunication giant Huawei,” Pelosi told the audience at the Munich Security Conference, echoing warnings the Trump administration has issued about the Chinese tech giant.

“Nations cannot cede our telecommunication infrastructure to China for financial expediency,” the speaker continued. “Such an ill-conceived concession would only embolden [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] as he undermines democratic values, human rights, economic independence and national security.”

“We must instead move to an internationalization” for 5G or fifth generation networks, the California Democrat said.

In November, the Federal Communications Commission blocked Huawei from accessing billions of dollars in federal broadband subsidies over concerns that Huawei could use its inroads into American broadband infrastructure to spy on and steal the private data of Americans, as well as to inject viruses and other malware into U.S. networks.

Then this week, U.S. officials warned that Huawei has for over a decade been able to use a backdoor method intended only for law enforcement to gain access to U.S. cellular networks and private information without the knowledge of the networks.

Huawei is closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party, with whom the Trump administration has been locked in trade battles as well as disputes over China’s theft of American intellectual property for the last several years.

Critics of the effort to keep Huawei out of U.S. networks expressed concern that blocking Chinese tech companies could compromise the administration’s trade negotiations with China and said equipment from the companies is already too deeply integrated into U.S. broadband infrastructure.

The U.S. signed a Phase One trade deal with China last month.