pompeo wang yi esper huawei
© Reuters / REUTERS/Andreas Gebert/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
Mike Pompeo, Wang Yi and Mark Esper at the Munich Security Conference
Tech firms that receive support from Beijing serve as instruments of Chinese intelligence, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has alleged, in the latest verbal volley aimed at Huawei and other Chinese companies.

"Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies are Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence," Pompeo said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. The US secretary of state took on the Chinese tech giant while speaking about what he believes are the biggest threats to modern security.

Mirroring Pompeo's sentiments, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told the conference that Washington would like to see "allied and US tech companies" develop their own technologies in order to compete with Chinese firms.

"Developing our own secure 5G networks will outweigh any perceived gains from partnering with heavily subsidized Chinese providers that answer to party leadership," he said. The technology for such networks is currently being tested at US military bases, Esper added.

Describing Huawei as a "poster child" for China's "nefarious strategy" to infiltrate Western infrastructure, Esper warned that the tech firm could endanger NATO if necessary action isn't taken.

Huawei has acknowledged that it receives "some policy support from the Chinese government," but insists that it does not receive any "additional or special treatment" from Beijing.

Earlier this week, the US Justice Department issued a new indictment against Huawei, accusing the Chinese firm of conspiring to steal trade secrets from as many as six US companies.

President Donald Trump formally banned Huawei tech from the US market in May last year, but since then the US Commerce Department has repeatedly extended a temporary general license, allowing the company to buy components from its US-based suppliers.

Washington has lobbied its European allies to ban Huawei from helping to develop their 5G networks, claiming that the tech firm poses a serious security threat. The warnings, however, have been largely waved away by US partners.

The European Union has left it up to individual member states to decide whether they want to do business with Huawei. Countries such as Germany, Italy and Portugal have already signaled that they are opposed to US pressure to drop the Chinese company. The UK granted Huawei a limited role in its 5G mobile network in January, a move which has infuriated Washington.