WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will express concerns about the growing presence of China's Huawei Technologies in central Europe when he visits Hungary next week, a senior administration official said on Friday.
During his visits to Hungary and Slovakia, Pompeo will also discuss ways to bolster security relationships with both countries, including clinching deals on defense cooperation, the official told reporters.
He will "urge regional leaders to heed the warnings of countries from Asia-Pacific who have found themselves in difficult straits as a result of working too closely with the Chinese," said the official, who briefed reporters on the upcoming visit
The U.S. is trying to persuade other governments to avoid Huawei, which is under scrutiny from Western intelligence agencies for its perceived ties to China's government and the possibility its equipment could be used for espionage.
Huawei, which has repeatedly denied engaging in intelligence work for any government, is one of several Chinese tech companies that have come under U.S. government scrutiny as a trade war between the two countries escalates.
The senior official said the United States was particularly worried about Huawei's influence in small eastern and central European countries where corruption was a problem and it was easy to penetrate state systems, the official said.
"Of course, we see (Huawei's presence) being problematic across the board, but what sets central and Eastern Europe apart is you have a large number of mostly small and mid-sized states, many of whom have a higher propensity to corruption," the official added.
He said China "sees relatively small countries with a recent history of communism, with significant pathways of corruption, that lend themselves more readily to state penetration in key sectors, and then they have a springboard to operate within EU fora."
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)
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