European officials oppose politicization of technology at Huawei forum
Published: Feb 24, 2021 03:24 AM

Photo:Courtesy of Huawei

Despite US pressure, officials of the EU Parliament and several European countries have opposed the politicization of technology and praised Chinese firms’ contribution at a global information tech forum co-organized by Huawei on Monday.

“It is important to note that 5G is turning into something of a political battleground,” said EU Parliament member Frances Fitzgerald in a speech she delivered online during the forum. The development of 5G should be a global enterprise, and no arbitrary borders should impede it, she said.

The connectivity available through the internet has proved capable of promoting “economic, social and political development” and assisting in the “progress of humankind as a whole,” Fitzgerald said. 

“In the years ahead, as we look to the rollout of 5G and the development of 6G, it is critical that political leaders ensure there are no artificial divisions,” she noted.

Senior government officials from European and Asian countries with partnerships with Chinese tech giants like Huawei, including Hungary and Portugal, attended the forum online or onsite on Monday. 

Under the forum theme of “Connected for Shared Prosperity,” they shared the tech development of different countries and how it benefits the people there, and emphasized the importance of joint efforts by all countries in pursuing global sustainable growth.

The US administration’s clampdown on Chinese firms and its bias against China’s 5G technology has become an artificial impediment to the global spread of this communication innovation, industry insiders observed.

“Technological advancements are hyped and politicized, sometimes demonized,” said Catherine Chen Lifang, Huawei’s senior vice president and director of the board, in her online keynote speech during the forum. Many have stopped believing in the power of technology because of fear and distrust, and some are going to great lengths to hinder the development of technology, she said.

“I recently read a report, which said that any important digital platform that is dominated by China will be highly dangerous to the US if not effectively contained and that 5G was one such platform,” Chen mentioned, saying that she disapproves of this argument alleging that [China’s] 5G technologies are dangerous or bad.

“If we claim that technology is critically important but its development is ideologically wrong, this will only result in division, confusion, and regression,” Chen noted. “We must reach a global consensus on this issue and believe in the power of technology to leverage it for the benefit of the society.”

The forum, hosted by Huawei, the GSM Association (GSMA), the Center for Environmental Economic Studies at Fudan University and The Paper with the support of UNESCO, was held as part of the lead up to the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2021, which takes place in Shanghai between February 23 and 25.