The Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona is an annual opportunity for tech companies to showcase their latest devices and compete for the attention of more than 100,000 gadget-lovers.
But this year a drama played out on stage and behind the scenes that had little to do with gadgets: a battle between American officials and Chinese tech giant Huawei.
The U.S. sent a delegation to MWC to protest the telecommunication firm's involvement in providing infrastructure for 5G, a fifth-generation wireless network that heralds faster speeds and response times for consumers and businesses. U.S. intelligence agencies fear Huawei's networking equipment could enable Chinese spying, claims Huawei has repeatedly denied. The U.S. has also accused Huawei of violating American sanctions on Iran and stealing trade secrets, which it also denies.
"The United States is asking other governments and the private sector to consider the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese information technology companies," Robert Strayer, ambassador for cyber and international communications at the U.S. State Department, told reporters Tuesday in Barcelona.