Huawei is back in the spotlight in Europe after a report suggested Germany may ban some devices from the Chinese telecom giant on its 5G network.
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The European Union’s top official has called on other EU countries to ban Chinese telecoms firms Huawei and ZTE from accessing their 5G networks, raising tensions with Beijing.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said he wanted more member states to remove “high-risk” suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE from mobile internet infrastructure upgrades, citing national security risks.
In January 2020, the EU adopted a “5G Cyber Security Toolkit” which aims to identify the risks associated with the adoption of certain 5G infrastructure providers in its deployment. This comes as several countries, including the UK, have decided to ban Huawei over security concerns.
“We will continue to work determinedly with lagging member states and telecommunications operators,” Breton said on Thursday. speech.
“I can only emphasize the importance of speeding up the decision to replace high-risk suppliers with their 5G networks. I also reminded the affected telecom operators that it is time to deal with this issue.”
To date, only 10 EU countries have restricted or banned Huawei from using their 5G networks, Breton said.
“For our part, the Commission will implement the principles of the 5G toolkit in its own procurement of telecommunications services to avoid contact with Huawei and ZTE,” Breton said.
China subsequently said it firmly opposes some EU countries’ ban on Huawei and that the Commission has no legal basis to ban the firm, Reuters reported, citing a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.
Breton’s comments follow reports that Germany is considering whether to ban Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network due to alleged national security risks. In response, the Chinese embassy in Germany said it was “confused and deeply dissatisfied” by the news.
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The US and its allies, including the UK and Australia, have banned Huawei from operating on their 5G networks.
Washington officials say Huawei and ZTE technology could be used by Beijing for espionage Both companies and Beijing have denied the allegations.
The EU has previously labeled China a “partner”, an “economic competitor” and a “systemic rival”.
Recently, however, it has leaned toward the “system rival” part, seeking to keep China close as a partner while wary of its growing influence in the development of critical technologies.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech earlier this year that she thought the bloc should reassess its ties with Beijing – although she said it was not in the EU’s best interests to “disassociate” itself from China. Instead, she said, it should appear to “de-risk” its relationship with China.
Operators have sought to replace Huawei as infrastructure providers in their mobile networks. Industry executives say Huawei’s technology is often cheaper and more advanced than that offered by rivals such as Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung.