Trump security team mulling 5G network to counter China

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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump's national security team is looking at options to counter the threat of China spying on US phone calls, and the possibilities include building a super-fast 5G wireless network, a senior administration official said on Sunday.

The official, confirming the gist of a report from Axios, said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the President himself.

The 5G network concept is aimed at addressing what officials see as China's threat to US cyber security and economic security.

This month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers handsets built by China's Huawei after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters.

In 2012, Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE were the subject of a US investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical US infrastructure.

Some members of the House Intelligence Committee remain troubled by security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE, according to a congressional aide.

Issues raised in a 2012 committee report about the Chinese firms have "never subsided," the aide said, adding that there was newer classified intelligence that recently resurfaced those concerns.

"We have to have a secure network that doesn't allow bad actors to get in," the senior official told Reuters. "We also have to ensure the Chinese don't take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business."

In Beijing yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said China prohibited all forms of hacking but did not specifically address the 5G network security issue.

"We believe that the international community should, on the basis of mutual respect and trust, strengthen dialogue and cooperation and join hands in addressing the threat of cyber attacks," Ms Hua told a regular news briefing.- REUTERS