Huawei is not afraid of rules-based competition in Europe
Published: Dec 28, 2021 07:18 PM
Huawei is not afraid of rules-based competition in Europe. Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Spanish multinational telecom company Telefónica has bought in 5G network equipment from Swedish manufacturer Ericsson to replace some of the Huawei gear, according to Reuters.

The replacement gear has yet to be confirmed, and there are no more details thus far. Spain is not one of those countries which have surrendered to the US government's pressure to implement a ban on Huawei networks. Huawei continues to do good business in Spain. The Chinese high-tech company inaugurated a new European technology support and service center in Madrid in October this year.

From the perspective of Telefónica, bidding from multiple operators during procurement is conducive to ensuring network security and cost control, which is in line with normal market competition rules.

Ericsson is one of Huawei's major competitors in the 5G field. The two companies have an intensifying competition in the European market. However, in the face of news that Sweden banned Huawei gear following US government interference, the Swedish company spoke up for Huawei, calling for its country to endorse global free trade and investment rules.

Huawei's development in the Spanish market is an epitome of the company's development in the entire European market. The broader context that cannot be ignored is that the US is trying to turn Europe into a battlefield for its tech war against Chinese enterprises. The Chinese tech giant currently faces both a competition and political crackdown in Europe.

Although the US keeps ratcheting up pressure, only a handful of countries in Europe like the UK and Sweden have succumbed to the US pressure and imposed arbitrary bans on Huawei's 5G under a baseless "security" guise. In response to this political maneuver, Huawei has resolutely resorted to legal options to defend its legitimate rights and interests.

It's certain that Huawei's determination to expand operation in Europe will not be shaken by any political crackdown. The US suppression in the past months has fully reflected Huawei's resilience. Huawei generated 320.4 billion yuan ($49.7 billion) in revenue in the first half of the year, despite COVID-19 impacts and the US government assault. Huawei is not afraid of arbitrary political crackdown, let alone healthy competition based on defined rules.

For European countries, it is obvious that following the US' lead to impose political suppression on Huawei's 5G is just unaffordable. British operator Vodafone and British Telecom warned that it would cost billions of pounds to remove Huawei equipment from their networks, and the operation would drag on for up to five to seven years, according to media reports.

To make Huawei decision at the expense of its own economic interests, but serving the interests of the US government, the result is destined to be sad for the UK and Sweden -- delayed rollout of their 5G networks and higher cost of the taxpayers' money. When these countries lag in 5G development, they will realize their mistake.

Regarding the development of Huawei in the European market, another important issue is the reciprocal opening of the Chinese and European markets. 
Even after Sweden imposed an arbitrary ban on Huawei's 5G, for Swedish company Ericsson and other European companies, the Chinese government has been following the rules of free trade and investment, fully protecting the legitimate rights of the development of European companies within the Chinese market. 

Moreover, China keeps expanding its opening up and reducing its negative list of foreign investment access.

Huawei is the world's leading 5G technology provider. To allow it to participate in the construction of 5G networks in Europe is fully in the interest of European countries and the broad consumers. Europe should also abide by the principles of free trade and investment and protect the company's proper rights.

At the end of last year, the leaders of China and Europe completed negotiations on EU - China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Although there emerged some uncertainties this year, the deal is in the interests of enterprises of both sides like Huawei and Ericsson to promote reciprocal opening-up to one another, and now it's time for the ratification of the agreement.

The author is chief executive of Chinese telecoms industry news website