5G networks built by Chinese telecoms have been classified as the second-highest threat level, according to Belgian security services, the Brussels Times reported on Thursday.
Belgian Telecom Minister Philippe De Bracker reportedly said in parliament on Thursday: “Our security services recommend protection level 4… limiting the use of parts of 5G technology that come from unreliable suppliers."
The Belgian government will ultimately decide the level of restriction on 5G providers, but the current security level grants remains the preferred route, De Bracker said as quoted by the Times.
Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE currently lead global markets in 5G technology, but US president Donald Trump has began putting pressure on European nations to not allow Huawei to build their telecoms infrastructure, with France, UK, Czech Republic, Germany, and others stating they would continue to work with the market leading firm in respective capacities.
President Trump has routinely accused Huawei and other Chinese telecoms of spying for the Chinese government, which both Huawei and Beijing have sharply and repeatedly denied. The US president also blacklisted Huawei, ZTE and over 70 other Chinese multinationals in early May, citing 'threats to national security', in a bid to restrict the China's access to global markets, further intensifying Washington's trade war on China.
But Belgium's centre for cybersecurity said in March last year that there it had found no evidence that Huawei's telecoms equipment was being used for espionage purposes.
According to Belgian newspaper Der Morgen, the current security level is 1, which allows companies to operate free of restrictions, with level 5 placing a full ban on technologies from "unreliable" suppliers.
The European Council also released a paper in October documenting conclusions by the bloc which addressed key security risks as well as future steps to take whilst building core 5G infrastructure.
The news comes after Brazil's minister for science, technology, innovation and education, Marco Pontes, rebuffed claims that his country would accept pressure from the United States on whether it should work with Huawei, adding that no companies would be excluded from current and future bidding processes and that Brazil would base contract awards on merit. The Trump administration had also been pressuring Dutch officials to block the sale of its chipmaking technologies to Beijing since 2018, with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo reportedly lobbying Dutch authorities not to accept such purchases, Reuters reported on Monday citing anonymous US government sources. Washington has repeatedly threatened to stop sharing intelligence with countries working with Huawei, namely amid the UK's final decision on whether to work with the Chinese telecom giant set to be released by the end of 2020.