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Spotlight: In blow to U.S., EU enables Huawei’s participation in 5G

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-30 06:05:02|Editor: Liu

BRUSSELS, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) — In defiance of pressure from the United States, the European Union (EU) did not ban Chinese technology firms such as Huawei in its guidelines on 5G security issued on Wednesday.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, issued the non-binding guidelines — agreed by 28 member states — known as a “toolbox” for 5G security, where the EU sets out detailed mitigation plans for each of the identified risks and recommends a set of key strategic and technical measures.

Despite intense lobbying and threats from the U.S. aiming to ban Chinese suppliers, particularly the leading global vendor Huawei, from participating in building 5G infrastructure, the EU did not name either China or any specific company.

Instead, the EU guidelines resorted to urging member states to “apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk, including necessary exclusions to effectively mitigate risks for key assets,” as well as “using for an adequate balance of suppliers at national level and avoid dependency on suppliers considered to be high risk,” without naming or specifying which supplier is “high risk”.

The guidelines followed London’s decision on Tuesday to allow Huawei playing a role in building the United Kingdom’s 5G network, albeit with some restrictions.

The U.S. administration has launched intensive diplomatic offensives against Huawei, urging — sometimes with explicit threats on intelligence sharing — its European allies to get rid of Huawei for good.

Huawei said in a statement after Brussels’ guidelines that “Huawei welcomes Europe’s decision, which enables Huawei to continue participating in Europe’s 5G roll-out. This non-biased and fact-based approach towards 5G security allows Europe to have a more secure and faster 5G network.”

“Huawei has been present in Europe for almost 20 years and has a proven track record with regard to security. We will continue to work with European governments and industry to develop common standards to strengthen the security and reliability of the network,” the statement added, quoting Abraham Liu, Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions.

The Chinese Mission to the EU said in a statement that it is studying and assessing the “toolbox”, urging the world’s largest trading bloc to implement its much-touted multilateralism, free trade and market principles and uphold a fair, open, just and non-discriminatory environment.

The statement urged the EU to join China in win-win cooperation and “resolutely resist” pressure from a small number of countries and politicians.

Huawei is widely considered as the leading technology firm globally in terms of 5G, and experts and think-tanks have repeatedly said banning Huawei would be very costly and extremely time-consuming for the EU.

Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, appeared to allude to the thinking by saying “Europe is not lagging behind” at a press conference after the issuance of the guidelines.

The European Commission said its approach is a risk-based one and solely on security grounds, “in full respect of the openness of the EU internal market as long as the EU security requirements are respected.”

“We are not picking on anybody, we are not ostracizing firms,” Breton said. Huawei is the world’s biggest producer of telecommunication gears, competing with Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

At the same time, the roll-out and operation of 5G networks in the EU is considered “a matter of national security”, according to the European Commission. EU Member States can go further than what is proposed in the toolbox where they identify a need to do so.

 

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