The Chinese Embassy in Cyprus accused Washington over the weekend of “openly coercing” Nicosia and other allies into keeping out Chinese companies in setting up 5G networks.
Last week US Under Secretary Keith Krach signed a memorandum of understanding with Minister Kokkinos, the Cypriot Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation, in a move to expand bilateral science and technology cooperation between the two countries.
“It is essential that the United States and the Republic of Cyprus work together as trusted partners to protect our citizens from those companies and countries we deem untrustworthy,” Krach said.
The US official also spoke of businesses being concerned over their data, saying they “are watching the decisions made by European authorities, including those in Cyprus carefully when deciding where to invest and expand.”
The embassy accused the US of 'fabricating and spreading rumours' about security threats posed by 5G networks from Chinese companies, saying Washington never provided any evidence
In response to Krach’s comments, which included the promotion of a “clean network” being vital to Cyprus’ national security, a Chinese press release on Friday rejected the notion that Chinese companies posed a threat, saying this was “the latest example of US resorting to diplomacy of lying and alienation.”
The embassy statement also accused the United States of “fabricating and spreading rumours” about security threats posed by 5G networks from Chinese companies, saying Washington has never provided any such evidence.
“So far not a single country, organization, company or individual has presented any evidence showing that Chinese companies pose a threat,” the Chinese embassy said.
China is further accusing the US of playing politics over 5G networks, according to the press release, citing a recent European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) statement that “denounces any bans of Chinese 5G suppliers for geopolitical reasons and emphasizes that such decisions can only be justified on the basis of well-established facts, stressing that the exclusion of specific suppliers will have negative impacts on consumers, enterprises and markets.”
In his remarks during the MoU signing in Nicosia, Krach listed benefits for Cyprus in adopting internationally accepted Digital Trust Standards, such as unity and solidarity amongst nations within a clean network as well as intelligence sharing, but also warned of companies being liable if something went wrong after choosing a high-risk supplier.
Beijing views Washington’s moves as strong-arm tactics, saying “China is fully confident that the world can see certain US politicians for who they really are," and calling on nations to "stay independent, make their own decisions, reject US hegemonic interference in other countries' 5G cooperation, and uphold a fair, just, open and non-discriminatory business environment.”