US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Italy Wednesday of China’s “predatory approach” to trade and investment, but Rome insisted its special powers over 5G supply deals would protect it.
“China has a predatory approach in trade and investment” and represents a “mutual threat” to the two countries, Pompeo said during a joint press conference with Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.
“When the Chinese Communist party shows up to make an investment to gain political power or threaten a nation’s security, that’s what needs to be protected against,” he said.
But Di Maio said Rome’s so-called “golden powers” in supply deals for fifth-generation (5G) telecom services, approved by the government in September, “make us among the most advanced in Europe on security”.
“We have no intention of taking part in trade accords that might harm our sovereignty as a state,” he added.
The special powers allow the government to impose conditions and requirements on the purchase of goods and services for 5G networks or deals between telecoms companies.
Chinese telecom giant Huawei is considered the world leader in high-speed 5G equipment.
The US has expressed fears that it could contain security loopholes that allow China to spy on global communications traffic, and has been lobbying European countries to stay clear of it.
The company has repeatedly denied the US accusations.