Spanberger: United States & NATO Partners Must Strengthen Cyber Defenses Amid 5G Threats from China

A 2018 NATO Report Recommended that Western Countries Build Alternative 5G Technologies to Compete with Huawei, Mitigate Threats Posed by Chinese Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today called on the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners to recognize the national security threats posed by an increased Chinese telecommunications presence in Europe.

According to a recent report, Huawei’s growing influence as a leading supplier of 5G technology in Europe could be exploited by China to engage in espionage, monitor foreign corporations and governments, and support Chinese military operations. To combat the potential cyber threats associated with a Huawei 5G monopoly, the report recommends that non-Chinese companies invest in 5G research and development—and it calls on European companies to reconsider the integration of Huawei technology into their 5G infrastructure.

During a hearing focused on China’s expanding influence in Europe and Eurasia, Spanberger underscored security concerns regarding Huawei’s 5G development, Chinese intelligence operations, and the potential vulnerabilities to U.S. and European cyber infrastructure. Additionally, she called on U.S. and European officials to prioritize 5G research and development as a component of a tough, smart strategy to check Chinese influence around the world. Click here to watch her remarks.

“As cell phones make the 5G transition, we need to recognize the real risks that this emerging technology presents—including the threat of espionage. As a former CIA case officer, I am particularly concerned about Huawei’s coordination with Chinese intelligence agencies and the Chinese military,” said Spanberger. “Because of this known cooperation, we need to take concrete steps to protect the cyber infrastructure of our homes, businesses, intellectual property, and defense systems. Today, I stressed that the expansion of Huawei should not be perceived as ‘business as usual,’ but it should be viewed as a strategic move by an intelligence adversary. We need to remain vigilant in addressing this threat—and as a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ll keep fighting to raise awareness about 5G manipulation, strengthen the integrity of our networks, and improve our overall security.”

The 2018 report from the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) warned that integration of Huawei as a 5G provider could create long-term negative consequences—and rolling back this process could be expensive, time-intensive, and too late to prevent potential security breaches. During the hearing today, Spanberger referenced these concerns and outlined the clear national security threat that Huawei’s European expansion poses to the United States.

Spanberger serves as Vice-Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment—in which today’s hearing was held.

BACKGROUND

Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has worked to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO, support key allies in Europe, and promote the NATO member states’ shared mission of mutual security. Spanberger is a cosponsor of the NATO Support Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House in January. And during a March 2019 hearing, Spanberger called on Congress to recognize the security contributions of NATO and to reaffirm the alliance’s indispensable role in promoting U.S. national security, economic strength, and successful diplomatic engagement efforts.

Spanberger is also promoting diplomacy, human rights, and humanitarian assistance as key components of U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific. During a February 2019 hearing, Spanberger pushed for the administration to pursue effective denuclearization steps with North Korea, respect the assessments of career public servants in the intelligence community, and hold North Korea accountable for its human rights abuses amid ongoing talks. Click here for a video of her remarks.

As a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Spanberger also serves on the Asia, the Pacific, and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee.

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