China will “never” ask its firms to spy on other nations, Premier Li Keqiang said Friday, amid US warnings that Chinese telecommunications behemoth Huawei poses security risks.
The United States has launched a global campaign to convince Western allies to shut Huawei out of next-generation 5G technology over fears the company could be used by Beijing for espionage.
A law recently enacted by Beijing that obliges Chinese companies to aid the government on national security has added to the concerns.
But Premier Li Keqiang said the government would not ask any company to spy on its behalf.
“There is none of that now, and there never will be (any of it) in the future,” Li told journalists at a press briefing marking the end of China’s yearly parliamentary meeting.
“This is not in accordance with Chinese law, and is not how China does things.”
China’s government voiced support last week for a lawsuit Huawei filed against the United States over legislation preventing American federal agencies from buying its equipment and services.
Washington this week upped the pressure on its European allies to not use the firm, threatening to cut back intelligence cooperation with Germany if it uses Huawei equipment.
Canada arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in December at the behest of the United States over charges of Iranian sanctions violations. Two Canadians, including a former diplomat, have been detained in China in apparent retaliation since then.
Her father is the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army.