U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged the Netherlands on Monday, June 3, to follow Washington’s tough line on China as the Dutch government prepares to auction off new 5G internet rights. Speaking after meeting with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok, Pompeo said they discussed China’s aspirations of spreading corrupt practices and its vision of authoritarian world dominance.

Pompeo said, “China wants to be the dominant economic and military power of the world, spreading its authoritarian vision for society and its corrupt practices worldwide. We talked today about these shared concerns as well as the concerns about technology, infrastructure and technology, and the 5G infrastructure network.”

Fifth-generation, or 5G infrastructure could involve Chinese tech gear supplier Huawei as the Netherlands and several other European countries are planning to auction off 5G network rights to telecom operators. The United States imposed sanctions on Huawei in May and the Trump administration said the company can be legally compelled to spy on behalf of the Chinese regime and is therefore a threat to international cybersecurity. 

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The secretary said, “We’ve been clear, all we ask is that our allies and our partners and our friends don’t do anything that will endanger our shared security interests or restrict our ability to share sensitive information. Friends speak to each other quite honestly and we had the opportunity to do that today. We’re not afraid of a little competition from China. I know the people of the Netherlands aren’t either. We want to compete on a free, fair, open, reciprocal basis and they know if we do that both the Netherlands and United States will continue to be a successful economic countries.”

Network operators, meanwhile, are signing deals with tech suppliers for the new gear needed to run 5G internet. A 2018 U.S. law already bars Huawei, the biggest global maker of network equipment from selling telecom equipment to U.S. government agencies and contractors. Stef Blok said that the Netherlands shares U.S. concerns, but has not yet decided on the rules for its 5G auction expected later this year.

Blok said, “I’m well aware of the debate that is going on and the European Union is of course negotiating on behalf of the Netherlands with our full support, with the aim in the end of reducing tariffs. It’s in the interest of nobody having tariffs that make trade more difficult or more expensive.”

Pompeo said, “They shouldn’t be concerned at all about U.S. policy on international trade. We want fair reciprocal trade, no tariff barriers, no non-tariff barriers, low cost free capital movement all across the world. We’re looking for the most wide open, entrepreneurial rules based system that trade can possibly engender. Those are the kind of things I think the people of Netherlands should be excited about. I think that’s why we’ve had such great turnout for this Entrepreneurial summit here today.”

Pompeo’s brief stop in The Hague offered support of international free trade and hope to companies attending an Entrepreneurship Summit and is the third leg of a four-nation tour of Europe designed to update allies about the current situation with Iran.

The secretary said, “And so we hope, we hope the summit will create real opportunities for all the folks who’ve come here today mostly companies that are looking to grow. A lot of truly global international players with small or medium businesses as well as medium sized businesses as well. We hope they’ll find real opportunity, but it is imperative that government take actions to ensure that those markets are open to them, so that we can sell American agricultural products into those places, so that we can sell American goods on terms that are fair and applicable, fair and equal, reciprocal. Those are fundamental rules of how trade and international markets must work and we’re determined to achieve that.”

Includes reporting from the Associated Press

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