China’s envoy to the European Union (EU) on Monday said Huawei was the victim of slander as Western Governments try to hamper the Chinese telecommunications giant’s effort to deploy its technology, especially 5G, worldwide.
“It is not helpful to make slander, discrimination, pressure, coercion or speculation against anyone else,” Ambassador Zhang Ming, the Head of Mission of China to the EU said in an interview with the Financial Times.
“Now someone is sparing no effort to fabricate a security story about Huawei,” he said.
Beijing’s criticism follows similar words by China Foreign Minister Wang Yi who said the campaign against Huawei was “unfair and immoral”.
Huawei, the largest telecom equipment maker and the second largest smartphone brand in the world has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns over the past few years. U.S. intelligence agencies allege Huawei is linked to China’s government and that its equipment could contain “backdoors” for use by spies, especially the next, advanced generation of 5G technology, although no evidence has been produced publicly and Huawei has denied the claims.
Amid heightened fears about espionage risks, companies or government agencies in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and others in Europe have announced bans on Huawei’s network equipment from last year, and India, Taiwan are reportedly considering joining the bandwagon.
In the meantime, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, is in Canada facing extradition to the US on charges of fraud. Measures previously taken against ZTE suggest US action against Huawei might include a ban on its purchase of US-made components, which are used in various Huawei products.
In an interview with Bloomberg, European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip said the EU was especially worried given China’s National Intelligence Law, passed in 2017.
This law compels companies and individual citizens to actively assist China’s spy organisations in investigations.
“When it’s written in the law, then we have to understand those risks are higher. We cannot be naive anymore,” Ansip told Bloomberg.
The worries circle around 5G technology, in which Huawei has invested billions of dollars, competing mainly against Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.
However, not everyone are pleased with the ban of Huawei’s product and services. Some European operators are likely to be frustrated at the clampdown on Huawei given the competition they have brought.
BT’s Chief Architect Neil McRae said “there is only one true 5G supplier right now and that is Huawei — the others need to catch up.”
“I’ve been to Shenzhen recently [Huawei’s headquarters] and there’s nowhere else in the world where you can see” the kind of 5G technology developments that Huawei has achieved, he noted during a panel discussion, though without highlighting any specific advances.
“The other suppliers need to learn from Huawei — the others are held back by old telco issues,” he added, before going on to praise Huawei’s support for BT’s next-generation network development activities.
Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm this week said the moves against Huawei were creating “uncertainty” among telcos, according to a report from CNBC.
“We haven’t really seen anything in our order books, but we see worried customers and concerned customers I think that is never good for the investment climate,” he is quoted as saying.
Huawei was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer. It generated over $90 billion in revenue in 2017. Its equipment is the backbone of mobile networks around the world, and its smartphones are popular in Europe, China and across Asia. In 2017, Fortune magazine ranked Huawei as the seventh-biggest tech company in the world by revenue, with more than $89 billion. The company has more than 180,000 employees.