Poland tables draft bill that could chase Huawei off the market

Poland tables draft bill that could chase Huawei off the market
By bne IntelliNews September 13, 2020

Poland’s United Right government proposed a bill last week that could put an end to the Chinese IT giant Huawei’s activity on the Polish market.

The draft bill, which amends the incumbent law on the “national system of cybersecurity”, says that providers of hardware and software need to be vetted for potential influence from non-EU or non-Nato countries. The vetting would include aspects like human rights or the use of personal data.

Such requirements would clearly work against China’s Huawei. The European Union is increasingly wary of China’s growing power and influence, with Brussels navigating the dilemma of keeping economic ties with China while confronting Beijing’s well-documented abuse of human rights at the same time.

A provider found to be of “high risk” to Poland’s cybersecurity would face a ban on the use of its products as well as seeing its products already in use withdrawn from the market, the draft bill stipulates.

Huawei is one of the global leaders in the development of 5G mobile telecommunications networks that are set to revolutionise services and which the EU countries are gradually rolling out.

Letting the Chinese company play an important part in the 5G build-up could pose a security risk, Poland has long said.

Warsaw and Huawei were at loggerheads in 2019 after an employee of the company and a former Polish security official were arrested on espionage charges. 

Warsaw said in reaction it could bar Huawei from taking part in getting the 5G network communication standard up and running in Poland.

Poland is also wary of the Chinese company’s products and services following the US’ warning they could be a security risk. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated those concerns during his tour of Czechia, Slovenia, Austria, and Poland last month.

Poland, along with other Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe countries, has been targeted by Chinese investors as Beijing rolls ahead with its multi-continental Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

This has brought billions of euros into the region especially in areas such as energy and transport infrastructure, often where countries have struggled to get financing from other sources. For several years now, major investments have been announced with much fanfare at the annual 16+1 forum bringing together China and states from across the region.  

The draft bill predictably does not name any names and its provisions could well be used to ban other technology and software providers, Politico Europe pointed out.