Almost a year ago, Trump was relentlessly advocating for outright rejection of Huawei’s 5G equipment by European Union countries after the ban on the company in the United States. But, no country, including its “natural ally” United Kingdom listened to the calls of the American Government, given the fact Huawei was a favourite of telecommunication network operators in almost every country.
The Chinese 5G giant with 120 billion dollars in revenue in the last calendar year, half of which came from outside China, emerged as the most technologically advanced and economically efficient 5G equipment supplier in the world in the last few years. Other major players in the telecom equipment market like Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung were no match for the Chinese giants- Huawei and ZTE.
Huawei and China were winning the 5G race despite Trump’s relentless campaign against the company but then came Coronavirus disease. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic in the last four months, the global geopolitical and economic scenario changed completely.
Huawei, the darling of telecom operators, is now out of business in some of the largest markets in the world- United States, India, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and now Italy has also made unfavourable moves against Huawei. Despite Huawei’s attractiveness for telecom operators, it is the government that has the authority to permit any company to supply equipments in the country. And, since the Coronavirus pandemic, government across the world, with few exceptions, are against China and its companies- which are a tool for the Chinese Communist Party in its global domination agenda.
After United Kingdom decided to phase out Huawei out of UK’s market within this year on the basis of a report from the National Cyber Security Centre, it looks like Huawei is set to lose its most lucrative market- Europe.
National Cyber Security Centre of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), the top intelligence body of the UK, revealed that the US sanctions barring the Chinese telecom giant from using technology relying on American intellectual property have had a “severe” impact on the technology firm.
The British intelligence believes that Huawei is now relying on “untrusted” equipment. Actually, the US President Donald Trump’s decision to ban the supply of semiconductors and chips to Huawei meant that the telecom giant had to rely on Chinese suppliers, the veracity of which the British security agencies could not guarantee.
After the ban in the United Kingdom, the companies in European countries like France and Germany are under pressure to ban the Chinese giant. The public mood, across Europe, is against anything remotely related to Chinese. The security agencies are, too, suspicious of using Chinese equipment in critical telecom infrastructure.
After British intelligence agency flagged Huawei, ANSSI, France’s National Agency for Security of Computer Systems, said that local telecom companies- SFR and Bouygues Telecom that already use Huawei equipment will be given eight-year licenses to operate 5G technology. Only time-limited approvals have been given to telecom operators that use the Chinese telecom giant’s 5G equipment.
France is not considering an outright ban on Huawei; rather its plan is to bring down the role of the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment in France’s wireless infrastructure to 13 per cent from the present 22 per cent.
Eric Bothorel, a member of the Cyber Security Committee in France’s National Assembly, has said that the measure to give only time-limited waivers for local operators using Huawei equipment will deter them from choosing the Chinese telecom major. The Print quotes him as saying, “Yes, it’s a phasing out.” He added, “It won’t be a total phase-out but there will be much less Huawei in the future network.”
Now, Italy, the third-largest market of the European Union, is also distancing Huawei from its 5G network. Telecom Italia, one of the largest telecom companies based in Italy, which is preparing to roll out 5G in Italy and Brazil, has excluded Huawei from the list of companies invited for the supply of equipments. Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Mavenir and Affirmed Networks, a company recently acquired by Microsoft- are among the list of invited suppliers.
After Telecom Italia shunned Chinese companies from a list of suppliers, a triggered Huawei told Italy to not act on the basis of ‘baseless allegations’. “We are firmly convinced that the security and development of digital Italy should be based on an approach grounded in facts and not baseless allegations,” said the company in a statement.
As for Spain, the Ministry of Defence banned all Huawei devices from its data serves last year. No reason was cited for the ban but it can be assumed that it was a consequence of the Trump-led allegations of espionage and security concerns against Huawei. However, Spain did not ban Huawei devices for its customers.
All eyes are now bound to shift onto Germany, the de facto leader of the European Union (EU). The country is already facing extensive American pressure to ban Huawei over security and dependence concerns.
Trump has even threatened to cut off intelligence sharing if Germany does not ban the Chinese telecom giant. Within Germany, leaders from Merkel’s own party, the Christian Democrats (CDU) have been campaigning against Huawei.
CDU intelligence expert Patrick Sensburg stated in July last year that he “neither trusts [5G] vendors from China, nor from the U.S,” because in both countries, “telecommunications companies need to cooperate closely with the security agencies.”
Even Germany’s Defence Minister and CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been critical of Huawei. Anyhow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has managed to sidestep the domestic criticism of Huawei thus far.
But, given the fact every European country is finding one or another reason to ban the Chinese telecom giant, it will be interesting to see how long the de facto leaders of Europe will be able to resist sentiments of public and neighboring government.
The British intelligence report about the Chinese telecom major’s diminishing standards has armed other European countries with reason to exclude Huawei and prefer better-equipped telecom operators instead. The report by Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre is becoming the death knell for Huawei’s European dream.