Pompeo: China, Russia ‘eroding sovereignty and freedom’ in Europe

Nellie Chapman
February 13, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech at the Freedom Gate memorial in Bratislava, Slovakia, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. To combat the threat, he said, the U.S. is committed to boosting its engagement in the region, through defence cooperation agreements and exchange programmes.

He later cautioned about the "the need to guard against China's economic and other efforts to create dependence and manipulate your political system".

The "Family Protection Action Plan" also promises to extend home loans to families with at least two children, give women under 40 a preferential loan upon marriage, build 21,000 nurseries across the country in three years, and provide grandparents with free childcare if they are raising their children's children.

At a joint news conference with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjart, Pompeo raised concerns over ties between Hungary and Russian Federation, and Budapest's contract with Chinese company Huawei to develop the country's fifth-generation mobile network.

According to AP, US officials are very concerned because of Huawei's expansion in Europe, especially in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members like Hungary, because they consider this to represent "a great threat". The warning was broad but pointedly delivered in Hungary, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and European Union member where Huawei is a major player.

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The US has been warning countries about the risks of Chinese telecoms technology as governments choose providers for the roll-out of 5G wireless internet, which will enable faster download speeds but also greater connectivity among devices.

Slovakia's experience under Soviet domination gives it "a special appreciation for the aggressive role Russian Federation continues to play in the region", Pompeo later said at a news conference with Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak. "And then they will get to make their decisions".

"We must not let Putin drive wedges between friends in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation", he said, adding that he had also warned of "the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary".

Washington is concerned in particular about the expansion of Huawei, the world's biggest maker of telecoms equipment, in Hungary and Poland.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto welcomed Pompeo's calls for closer ties and promised more defence cooperation but also brushed off the criticism on relations with Russian Federation and China. We want to make sure we identify [to] them the opportunities and the risks with using that equipment. But he said he had discussed "the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary" in talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

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