ROME (Reuters) – Chinese businesses like Huawei Technologies Co pose a threat to the West, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law said on a visit to Italy on Tuesday, shortly before the Italian foreign minister was due to meet China’s top diplomat.

Law, a former legislator, left Hong Kong last month after China imposed a new national security law on the territory that has been heavily criticised by the West.

Law spoke to reporters in Rome shortly before Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio was due to meet Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, with the pair expected to discuss the roll out of new generation 5G technology in Italy.

Italy has not joined the United States in imposing restrictions on Huawei but the company was excluded from a recent Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) tender to supply technology for a 5G network in Italy and Brazil.

Law urged Western governments to be highly cautious in their dealings with Beijing.

“The most powerful authoritarian regime in the world is posing a threat to democracies, including using measures of infiltration, including using the influence of their state enterprises like Huawei,” he said.

“If infrastructure like telecommunications, harbours or even the nuclear industry are controlled or are owned by Chinese companies then it will impose serious danger to the country.”

Huawei has denied allegations by the United States that it is a Trojan Horse for Chinese cyberspies and Beijing has criticised countries such as Britain and Australia, which have said they will shun the Chinese technology giant.

Di Maio and Wang were due to give a news conference at the end of their talks. Law called on Italy not to ignore what had happened in Hong Kong.

“My arrival and the message I’m bringing here is very clear: We need to address the human rights violations to China even if we’re engaged with them and we have to be very aware of the infiltration and their authoritarian expansionist nature.”

Reporting by Angelo Amante; Writing by Crispian Balmer, Editing by William Maclean

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