US pressures Korea on Huawei-LG deal

Dylan Bushell-Embling
06 Jan 2014

US lawmakers have formally approached the South Korean government to raise security concerns over a network deal between LG U+ and Huawei.

The US has “made an issue” over the mobile operator's decision to award an LTE contract to Huawei, a Korean government source confirmed to the Korea JoongAng Daily.

The news follows a report in the US-based Daily Beast stating that the Obama administration is turning up the pressure on Seoul to stand in the way of the deal.

Two US senators first publicly expressed concerns over the deal back in December, sending a letter to top US security officials questioning whether it creates risks for the US-South Korea alliance. South Korea's status as a key military ally to the US is reportedly compounding the issue.

But if the source's opinions are a reflection of the Korean position, the government could be sticking to its guns.

The report quotes the source as stating that LG's contract with Huawei is just a trade and business deal, and should not motivate a diplomatic dispute. The source adds that if the US has a problem with this kind of contract, “the global trade system might just as well shut down.”

US authorities have long expressed concerns over the potential national security risks of using Huawei's equipment, alleging links between the vendor and the Chinese military. These fears have persisted despite a lack of evidence and Huawei's repeated denials of any such ties.

While Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs is reportedly meeting with the US Secretary of State this week to address the concerns over the deal, the US government's authority to complain about potential state surveillance has been seriously damaged by the recent NSA revelations.

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