Caixin
Nov 21, 2019 04:32 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

Huawei Puts Positive Spin on 5G Business Prospects in Europe

Huawei's top executive is positive on the company's prospects in Europe. Photo: VCG
Huawei's top executive is positive on the company's prospects in Europe. Photo: VCG

(Barcelona, Spain) – Despite a string of negative headlines including the possibility of being barred from the next-generation 5G network in Germany, Chinese telecomm giant Huawei is putting a positive spin on its prospects for the continent.

“Currently, most of the mobile operators in Europe are open for cooperation with Huawei,” said Ernest Zhang, who oversees Huawei’s enterprise businesses in Western Europe, in an interview with Caixin Wednesday in Barcelona.

Huawei has been cooperating with these mobile operators for more than 10 years, and security has never been a problem, Zhang said.

“On the issue of security, we should not have that based on ‘assumption,’” he said, addressing the U.S. government allegation that Huawei’s equipment poses security risks because it could be seized and controlled by the Chinese government. The American government put Huawei on a blacklist in May barring the company from sourcing key U.S. technologies without special approval.

The U.S. has since been lobbying allies in Europe to stop doing businesses with Huawei, though the results of that effort remained mixed. One of Huawei’s most prominent supporters in Europe is Germany. The Angela Merkel government said in early October that it won’t exclude any supplier from participating in the rollout of the country’s 5G mobile network.

However, recent developments in Germany cast doubt on Huawei’s business prospects in the region’s largest economy. The country’s spy chief said last month that Huawei “can’t fully be trusted.” Merkel is facing pressure from her own Christian Democratic party, which is set to vote for a Huawei ban at the end of this week, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Without addressing the political opposition to Huawei in Germany, Zhang said Merkel’s approach in dealing with the security issue is “fully welcomed” by Huawei.

“What we currently learned is that the government would set up universal security standards that apply to all companies, and they won’t target a specific firm,” Zhang said.

On Monday, the U.S. government said it would offer another 90-day reprieve for Huawei that would allow it to continue purchasing some products from U.S. suppliers. This is the second such extension. The previous extension was scheduled to expire Nov. 19, and this one will end Feb. 16.

Pointing to Huawei’s latest earnings report, Zhang played down the impact of the blacklist on the company’s future operations. Despite being put on the list in May, Huawei managed to increase revenue by 24% to $86 billion for the first nine months, he said.

Separately, Huawei said Tuesday that it signed an agreement with the city government of Barcelona to collaborate 0n smart city-related projects. Huawei reported the partnership during an event at the annual three-day City Expo World Congress, which kicked off Tuesday in Barcelona.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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