WASHINGTON: Under Secretary Keith Krach has said that he and Assistant Secretary Francis R. Fannon visited Latin America and the headline of the trip is the Clean Network has grown to 53 clean countries with the entry of Brazil, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic just in the last week.
This he said during briefing after the trip of Latin American countries. He said that after my September Taiwan trip which culminated last week in the signing of an Economic Prosperity Partnership with Taiwan, my team and I, traveled to 25 countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Middle East, Central and South America building out the Clean Network.
He added that six months ago when our team got the 5G authorities, it looked like it was too late to prevent the Chinese Communist Party’s Huawei from being deeply embedded in the next generation of global telecommunications.
At the 2020 Munich Security Conference in February, Speaker Pelosi warned European countries they will choose autocracy over democracy if they let Huawei take part in rolling out 5G technologies.
A few days later at a press conference in London, Huawei announced we have 91 commercial contracts worldwide, including 47 from Europe. It looked like they were going to run the table in Europe and everywhere else. And that’s when the work began, and so from there we grabbed our diverse e-team of a dozen results-oriented executives with some of the State Department’s finest career officers and started a pilot test to build an alliance of democracies.
He further added that it was that formula that resulted in the Clean Network, a coalition of likeminded countries, companies, and civil society with a comprehensive approach to address the long-term threats to data privacy, security, human rights, and trust in collaboration. It was designed to be a bipartisan, enduring strategy in the epic battle of freedom versus authoritarianism.
Last week Brazil became the 50th member of the Clean Network, followed by Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica is on the way, he added.
In addition to clean countries, the Clean Network now includes 180 clean telcos and dozens and dozens of leading clean companies like Oracle, HP, Reliance Jio, NEC, Fujitsu, Cisco, Siemens, Softbank, VMware, and many others.
Here’s some of the stats: 27 of the 30 NATO allies are members; 26 of the 27 EU members, 31 of the 37 OECD nations, 11 of the 12 Three Seas nations are now part of the Clean Network. This alliance of democracies also includes technology-savvy nations like Japan, Israel, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada, Vietnam, India, and the Clean Network partners include a glowing – a growing list of global heavyweights like NATO Deputy Secretary General Geoana, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton, and Chairman of the Three Seas Initiative and Estonian President – President Kaljulaid.
And the Clean Network’s momentum has turned the tide on Huawei and the CCP’s 5G master plan by building an alliance of democracies built on democratic values which are embodied in the trust principles of the network.
He shared a few brief highlights from the trip that the first stop was Brazil, where we launched the first ever Japan-U.S.-Brazil Exchange, a new trilateral forum to strengthen policy coordination. And we talked about 5G security and heard from Brazil’s high-tech innovators and many other Fortune 500 business leaders about the importance of 5G trusted infrastructure. In addition to Ambassador Chapman, the entire team at Mission Brazil worked overtime to make Brazil the 50th country to support the Clean Network.
One of the guys we talked to, Augusto Lins, president of Stone, he’s this famous high-tech entrepreneur. He built a $20 billion company. And what he said was having the Clean Network is very important to fight cyber crime, data breaches, and money laundering, as well as to attract investments to new value-added products and services, which will require innovative solutions. And he said a network is only as strong as its weakest link.
He added that after Brazil we went on to Chile, where the Government of Chile is getting closer to a Clean Network decision. And as in Brazil, Chile’s private sector leaders understand what’s at stake, with executives from both insurance and banking sectors calling 5G infrastructure security critical in protecting their industries and clients.
In Ecuador, I spoke with President Moreno and many members of the national assembly, as well as the minister of telecommunications, who issued a statement during a joint press release stating that Ecuador has reiterated its commitment to join efforts in pursuit of open and secure global internet based on democratic values and respect for human rights. Ecuador supports the principles of the Clean Network Initiative, and they became our 51st member.
During our stop in Panama, we had the opportunity to meet with Foreign Minister Alejandro Ferrer as well as other senior finance, security, and telecommunication officials. And Panama has positioned itself as an innovation hub in Central America.
Under Secretary Krach and Assistant Secretary Fannon ended the trip with the Dominican Republic joining the Clean Network. After great discussion with the four telco operators there, an in-depth meeting with President Abinader and Foreign Minister Alvarez, and we issued a joint statement welcoming the Dominican Republic as the first Caribbean nation in the Clean Network. And the country has a great opportunity to become la perla del Caribe, the pearl of the Caribbean, in high-tech innovation sector.
On the occasion, Assistant Secretary Fannon said that the Latin American trip was a fantastic and adding that I think in particular the countries we visited – the IMF was projecting pre-COVID they were going to have a pretty anemic but positive growth. In the post-COVID, they’re predicting nearly a 9 percent contraction in these economies. These countries are facing significant economic dislocation of COVID-reduced impacts.
He added that “I would just like to underscore the growing support for the Energy Resources Governance Initiative, which is our minerals-focused work. Was proud to have those engagements in all three – I recently convened 20 countries on the ERGI concept. All three of the countries that we visited – Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil – were participating in that convening.
While answering to a question regarding Taiwan, Under Secretary Krach said that “I went over there for President Lee’s funeral. He’s the father of their democracy. We had discussions on an economic dialogue, and then that culminated last Friday when representatives from Taiwan came over to the U.S., and we signed an Economic Prosperity Network. And this covered all kinds of areas of economic collaboration, from semiconductors to 5G to healthcare supply chains, all of that.
Regarding the NG and LNG export deal Assistant Secretary Fannon said that he don’t think anything’s been decided, so I think it would be inappropriate to comment on something that’s under continued conversation. What we do believe strongly is that U.S. gas is produced in the most efficient way possible. I know companies are constantly striving to improve their efficiency and inclusive of emissions-related performance. So I have every confidence that the United States industry will continue to innovate to be the lowest-cost and highest-quality producer in the world.
But your question really speaks to a broader issue, and I would turn it more to the historic long-term supplier of gas, which – and that is coming from Russia – and their performance. And I – there’s been various studies that have looked at Gazprom’s, in particular’s production. There’s an organization called the Carbon Disclosure Project that issues reports out. And they rank Gazprom as one of the worst performers in terms of environment. So I would put the question back and suggest a strong evaluation about the current incumbent supplier, and would measure U.S. companies and the transparencies with which U.S. companies approach the way – and the ways in which they conduct business. Hold that up to any company in the world, but especially a state one from an OPEC regime coming from the East.