Brazil will prioritize its interest, not US’ on Huawei

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/19 21:23:40

A digital screen displays a Huawei logo during a Huawei launch event ahead of the MWC Barcelona in Spain on Feburary 24. Photo: VCG

A new front has opened in Washington's campaign against telecoms giant Huawei as media reports have said US officials warned their Brazilian counterparts of their security concerns about the Chinese company.

After the US underscored to Germany its threat to limit intelligence sharing with countries that allow Huawei to participate in their 5G projects, the US is shifting its sights from Europe to Latin America. 

The US blockade against Huawei extends around the world, but Latin America is perhaps a hard-hit area. Huawei's presence in Latin America may arouse special vigilance in the US, which still to some extent sees the region as its own backyard. The US has its own strategic considerations involving Latin America, and therefore strategic concerns about Huawei's business in the region.

Huawei's presence in Brazil has been clearly felt. Some statistics showed the company had up to 40 percent of the network equipment market in the country as of 2015. Brazil is reportedly the world's fourth-largest and Latin America's largest smartphone market. The US may worry about losing the market in Latin America if Huawei leads the region in the next generation of mobile internet. 

In most US officials' eyes, the telecoms equipment sector is not simply an economic issue but one carrying strategic implications. Washington will certainly be unhappy if Chinese companies build up a presence in the US "backyard." The warning for Brazil is a result of the "America First" strategy, representing US concerns instead of Brazil's interests.

China is a latecomer among big powers in terms of developing economic ties with Latin America. In recent decades, cooperation in the telecoms sector between Chinese and European companies has been widespread in Latin America. Such cooperation can help the region's 5G construction with high efficiency and low costs. However, the more competitive those Chinese and European companies are, the more vigilance against the cooperation there will be.

As a sovereign state, Brazil will only make decisions based on its own interests, rather than the "America First" strategy. Washington's efforts to crack down on Huawei based on strategic and ideological considerations are doomed to fail.

Chinese and European companies won't give up the market in Latin America. They should work more closely with Latin American countries to enhance business cooperation, and build more stringent standards for information security, offering the US no excuse to interfere in the region's normal economic cooperation.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

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