Europe is giving US-led calls for a boycott of Huawei 5G telecoms equipment a mixed reception, with some governments untroubled by spy suspicions against the Chinese giant, but others backing a ban.
In the latest setback for Huawei, Poland said Friday it had arrested a Chinese telecoms executive suspected of spying for China, with local media identifying him as a Huawei director. Huawei said it had fired the employee arrested in Poland, telling AFP “his alleged actions have no relation to the company”.
Huawei had already seen the arrest of the daughter of the firm’s founder in Canada and US efforts to blacklist the company internationally over security concerns.
Several Asian and Pacific countries have followed Washington’s call for a Huawei ban, but the picture in Europe is more nuanced, not least because Huawei’s 5G capabilities are so attractive. They are well ahead of Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and South Korea’s Samsung, analysts say.
Fifth generation (5G) technology represents a quantum leap in wireless communication speed, and will be key to developing the internet of things, including self-driving cars. That is why Europe wants to deploy it as quickly as possible.
“Operators have looked at alternatives but have realised that Huawei is currently more innovative and probably better for 5G,” said Dexter Thillien, an analyst at Fitch Solutions.
‘Competence’ and ‘talent’
Huawei has faced increasing scrutiny over its alleged links to Chinese intelligence services, prompting not just the US but also Australia and Japan to block it from building their 5G internet networks.
But in Europe, Portugal’s main operator MEO signed a deal with Huawei in December during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, praising the Chinese company’s “know how, competence, talent and capacity to develop technology and invest in our country”.