January 29, 2021 By The Associated Press
VILNIUS, Lithuania — A Chinese state-owned maker of security-screening equipment should be blocked from supplying equipment for Lithuania’s three international airports over national security concerns, the Lithuanian government said Friday.
Beijing-based Nuctech last year won a bid to install baggage scanners at airports in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga, government spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitiene said. No deal has been signed.
However, a parliament-appointed panel concluded this week that Nuctech’s luggage and cargo-screening equipment doesn’t meet national security interests.
The government was expected to follow the panel’s conclusion next week when a decision is made, which is considered a formality.
The panel said Nuctech’s screening equipment can collect data on passengers and luggage, which could be available to China’s intelligence and security services under a 2017 Chinese law that compels companies to help with intelligence gathering.
The chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence, Laurynas Kasciunas, told the Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency, that it “shows that Lithuania has decided not to be part of the techno-sphere being created and controlled by China.”
“Investments and purchases in strategic sectors must meet the trans-Atlantic security criteria,” Kasciunas was quoted as saying.
Nuctech could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lithuania’s move comes amid U.S.-led efforts to blacklist Chinese tech companies over national security worries. Chinese telecom giant Huawei has been the most notable target but numerous other companies such as Nuctech have also been in the crosshairs.
Last month Nuctech was added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s “entity list” banning the export of U.S. technology to companies unless the exporter receives a government license. The U.S. government said Nuctech’s “lower performing equipment impair U.S. efforts to counter illicit international trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials.”