QCOSTARICA — Costa Rican government officials have raised concerns about potential cybersecurity threats posed by Chinese vendors in the development of 5G networks in the country.
The Ministra de Ciencia, Innovación, Tecnología y Telecommunicaciones (Micitt) – Minister of Science, Technology, and Telecommunications – Paula Bogantes, stated before a legislative committee that Chinese vendors represent a security threat to the emerging digital network, while another senior ministry official referred to the Chinese government as “totalitarian.”
In response, the Chinese embassy in Costa Rica criticized the statement made by Bogantes on October 13, saying that it undermine economic relations between the two nations.
“These comments gravely affect the confidence and expectations of Chinese companies to undertake economic-trade activities in Costa Rica and they erode the good energy to develop bilateral relations,” the embassy wrote in a statement.
The official statement went on to say China deemed the comments “irresponsible and unfounded.”
At the end of August, the government of Rodrigo Chaves issued a decree on security measures for fifth-generation (5G) networks, effectively banning firms from countries that have not agreed to an international cybercrime convention, such as China, South Korea, Russia, and Brazil, among others.
This would leave the Chinese firm Huawei without the possibility of being a supplier of this type of 5G systems and technology in Costa Rica.
Chaves issued the decree following the visit of U.S. Army General Laura Richardson to Costa Rica, where she questioned the growing Chinese investment in Latin American infrastructure development including 5G networks.
The issuance of the decree was announced in the context of President Rodrigo Chaves’ trip to Washington and his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in early September.
In an appearance before the Legislative Assembly last week, the Vice Minister of Telecommunications, Hubert Vargas, said that China has a totalitarian State that enables its companies to carry out espionage in other countries.
Bogantes, for her part, said that China is not committed to pursuing cybercriminals. The Minister also published a statement on the Micitt website.
Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, have already effectively banned Huawei from their 5G networks or imposed restrictions.
Huawei firm has been a supplier to the state telecom, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad ICE), of mobile networks for about 15 years, when 3G networks were implemented in the country. In addition, it is a provider of networks, equipment and systems for Internet networks, as well as other local suppliers.