ZURICH (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Switzerland about its close business ties with China, telling a newspaper the neutral European country was exposing itself to privacy breaches if it let Chinese companies help build its infrastructure.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has told allies not to use Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s next-generation mobile technology and equipment because of concerns it could allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data. Huawei denies it is, or could be, a vehicle for Chinese intelligence.
“The Swiss attach great importance to the protection of their privacy, and that for a long time,” Pompeo told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung. “But if you operate with Chinese technology, you supply your information to the Chinese Communist Party. There is no privacy.”
In the interview published on Tuesday, Pompeo praised Switzerland - which acts as a diplomatic conduit between the United States and Iran - as a country with deep democratic traditions, the rule of law and a similar view of how the world should work.
“But we also work together on important security issues,” he said of his four-day trip to Switzerland that ended on Monday.
Swiss President Ueli Mauer met Trump at the White House last month and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in April.
Maurer said in Washington that Switzerland had chosen a different path in dealing with China, preferring to advocate for its values directly with Beijing.
He said Switzerland had banned all foreign companies from providing services or hardware for its critical infrastructure, but Huawei was present in the private commercial market.
Trump, on an official visit to London, is expected on Tuesday to demand that Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor ban Huawei from UK 5G networks.
Security minister Ben Wallace said Britain has not made a final decision on whether to use Huawei technology.
Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by John Stonestreet