China opposes ‘politicisation’ of 5G technology as US lobbies allies to exclude Huawei

Amanda Lee

China opposes “politicising” 5G technology and welcomes foreign companies in joint development of next generation wireless products, the country’s technology minister said on Monday, in comments that appeared to be a jab at Washington’s lobbying of its allies to exclude Huawei from building telecoms networks.

The minister, Miao Wei, said it was an exaggeration to link Chinese products with national security concerns.

“In the internet era, no technology can be developed independently by a country behind closed doors, and no application can be used within a country,” Miao said at a press conference in Beijing.

“On the issue of security, we oppose politicising technical issues … and hope we can jointly study technology with other countries to maximise gains and minimise harms [of 5G].”

On the issue of security, we oppose politicising technical issues … and hope we can jointly study technology with other countries to maximise gains and minimise harms [of 5G]

Miao Wei

Miao said China would continue opening its 5G development to the rest of the world and had already created a research platform that allowed foreign firms – including Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung – to work with Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

The Chinese minister did not mention the United States, but his comments come amid intense US lobbying of Britain to ban Huawei from its future 5G networks. The Trump administration alleges that Huawei’s equipment could be used for spying, something the company denies.

Australia, a member of the Five Eyes intelligence group along with Britain and the US, have banned Huawei from their 5G networks. But US efforts to persuade other countries, including Germany and India, have had limited success.

China is spending lavishly on 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication, in a bid to race ahead in development of the technology that is expected to revolutionise military and security operations, an area that China and US are battling over for supremacy.

Globally the 5G industry will see investment of US$3.5 trillion between 2020 and 2035, with China accounting for 30 per cent of overall spending, according to a forecast by Deloitte. Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms supplier, has more 5G patents than any other company as of November 2019, according to data-analytics firm IPlytics.

The US Commerce Department in May last year placed Huawei on a trade blacklist, citing national security concerns, allowing Washington to restrict sales of US made products to the company.

US Senator Tom Cotton introduced a bill early this year that would stop the US sharing intelligence with countries that use Huawei equipment for their 5G networks.

The company has come under intense scrutiny from the US since Washington and Beijing kicked off a trade war more than 18 months ago.

Chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in late 2018 at the behest of the US, which accused her of violating US sanctions against Iran.

Huawei has been ramping up its effort to replace US made products and services with non-American technology, although Miao said China was embracing fair competition and collaboration in the 5G sector.

“We will, as always, welcome foreign companies to actively participate in China's 5G development, follow relevant laws and regulations, and [we will] treat domestic and foreign companies and operators fairly,” he said.

“We also hope that we can work with overseas government departments, research institutions and enterprises to establish cooperation mechanisms and study how to prevent 5G security issues.”

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