Huawei takes effort to map way out in Europe, pioneers the path for other Chinese firms

By Zhou Qing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/29 21:58:41

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

China's 5G mobile service will be launched this coming Friday. The move will mark another major step for Chinese 5G technology. While domestic technology companies like Huawei are eager to share their achievements with the rest of the world, it should be noted that biases held by Western countries are burdens these firms have had to bear during their explorations. 

Europe tends to have a different attitude to the US, which has blacklisted Huawei and warned European countries to drop the company's 5G network. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is moving toward allowing Huawei access to the "non-contentious" parts of the network, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday. This follows Germany's decision not to bar Huawei from its 5G network two weeks ago.

Though the US has been pressuring its European allies to reject Huawei, European countries seem to have a better understanding of what 5G means to them. With enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, 5G technology can ignite a country's industrial upgrading. About 70 percent of 5G functions will be used in industries, rather than only targeting consumption sectors, Xu Xiaolan, dean of the China Academy of Industrial Internet, said during a seminar on Monday. Countries will have to keep up with technology trends to support future industrial development. This has become increasingly important against the backdrop of Europe's economic slowdown. 

Germany is pursuing the Industry 4.0 strategy proposed in 2011, which could be boosted by 5G technology. The UK rolled out its Industrial Strategy in 2016, with artificial intelligence (AI) being one of its targeted areas, to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and assuage the potential impact of Brexit. The 5G technology, which enables AI, the Internet of Things, smart factories and eventually smart cities, will bring real revolution to society and unlock a new era for people and business.

China has inarguably seized the leading position in 5G technology. It is the major contributor to current global 5G standards, and Huawei is at the peak of 5G technology worldwide. There is growing consensus that China is taking the lead when it comes to 5G, and Huawei holds 28 percent of the global telecommunications market, according to an article published in Foreign Policy. 

Practical need keeps European countries relatively open to Huawei's 5G network. But China should not be too optimistic about this. Some European countries will set up intangible restrictions and barriers despite giving Huawei access to their 5G markets. 

Additionally, certain opinions will continue to politicize the 5G competition, and doubt the purpose of the Chinese 5G network. Some critics reportedly stated that Germany's recent 5G decision was "a very bad idea." A German politician said that Huawei may subject the country to "state influence," according to Politico. 

The Sunday Times' report that the UK is taking steps to allow Huawei limited access to its 5G network has quickly sparked controversy online. Opposition to Huawei's 5G network has gone beyond the realm of technology, and instead boils down to bias against China. Following the US' false accusations and wrongful ban of Huawei, the country's bias is becoming contagious and spreading to Europe.

Huawei's cost-efficient 5G network solution was intended to be a boon for countries like the US, which is trying to bring back high-end manufacturing and revive its manufacturing sectors. Due to its bias, the country is likely to fall behind its competition in the next industrial revolution.

In this sense, Huawei is a pioneer. The company's efforts in Europe are seeking to prove that Huawei runs just like any other private company in the UK, Germany or France. Step by step, Huawei is taking efforts to map its way out in Europe and change people's perceptions. This will take time but must be done. If Huawei can succeed, it will be easier for other Chinese companies following in its path. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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