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10 Feb, 2020 09:49

China warns France not to discriminate against Huawei on 5G contracts

China warns France not to discriminate against Huawei on 5G contracts

The Chinese embassy in Paris has called on the French government to treat telecom giant Huawei as an equal to other tech companies when it comes to participant selection in the rollout of superfast 5G networks there.

France is currently picking suppliers for its next-generation networks and Huawei could be one of the top contenders, despite the US trying to convince its allies around the globe to ban the Chinese tech major.

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As France is expected to auction off the first frequencies of its 5G spectrum in April, some indigenous media have recently reported that Huawei could be barred from entering several large cities. France might also allocate Huawei less time for a security review than for similar equipment made by the Chinese giant’s European competitors, such as Nokia and Ericsson. Those two firms have already been picked by France’s main carrier, Orange, while the country's other major telecoms operators have yet to announce their 5G partners.

In a statement issued on Sunday on its website, the Chinese embassy said that if those claims are true, the treatment of a company based just on its country of origin would be “blatant discrimination” and “disguised protectionism,” that violates free-trade principles. It said that security fears about Huawei were unfounded, and urged France and the EU to treat all equipment makers equally, if they want similar treatment for European firms on the Chinese market.

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“China has always treated Nokia and Ericsson fairly in the construction of 5G networks,” the statement said, adding that the firms were allowed to equip its own domestic networks. “We do not wish to see the development of European companies in China affected due to discrimination against Huawei and protectionism in France and other European countries.”

The US and some of its allies accuse the Shenzhen-based company of spying for the Chinese government and of posing a consequent security threat. Huawei and the Chinese government have repeatedly denied the allegations. Last month, the head of the French national cybersecurity agency ANSSI, Guillaume Poupard, said that it did not find any evidence to support the US-led claims.

“There is no Huawei smoking gun as of today in Europe,” Poupard said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “There is no situation with Huawei being caught massively spying in Europe. Elsewhere maybe it’s different, but not in Europe.”

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