Huawei Slams EU's Unfair 5G Ban Proposal
Chinese telecom giant Huawei protests the potential European Union ban on 5G products, calling it unjust and a violation of principles.
In a statement issued on Thursday, a spokesperson for Huawei Europe criticised the reported EU plan, stating that it does not serve the interests of any party involved. The spokesperson emphasised Huawei's firm opposition to the politicisation of cybersecurity evaluations, as it contradicts the principles and laws of both the EU and its member states.
The spokesperson further pointed out the serious economic and social risks posed by exclusions based on non-technical judgments. Huawei believes that such bans would hinder innovation and distort the EU market, ultimately leading to increased costs of digital services for consumers.
Highlighting the company's track record, the spokesperson asserted, "Throughout our time in Europe, there is no record showing back doors in our equipment." Huawei's response comes in the wake of a Financial Times report suggesting that the EU is contemplating a mandatory ban on equipment from companies, including Huawei, that could potentially pose a security risk to 5G networks.
The Financial Times also noted that although the EU recommended member states ban or restrict Huawei in their 5G telecoms networks in 2020, only one-third of EU countries have followed through with this recommendation. The proposed ban, which would require new laws, is not expected to take effect until 2024, coinciding with the end of the current European Commission's term.
If the EU proceeds with the ban, it would deliver a significant blow to Huawei, particularly in a region where it has collaborated closely with Chinese telecoms vendors to develop 5G networks, despite pressure from the United States to avoid such partnerships. According to a study by Copenhagen-based telecoms consultancy Strand Consult, Chinese vendors supplied over 50% of the 5G equipment in 31 European countries by the end of 2022. Germany, as Europe's largest economy and China's primary trade partner in the EU, procured 59% of its 5G equipment from Chinese vendors. Notably, Huawei held a greater market share in Berlin than in Beijing, where it competes with local rival ZTE and other vendors.
The study also revealed that several major European economies, including Italy, Poland, Portugal, Austria, and Spain, continued to make significant purchases of Chinese 5G equipment. While Huawei has been actively involved in Europe's 5G roll-out since its inception, it has faced mounting pressure from the US since being blacklisted in 2019, leading to trade restrictions and bans on Chinese 5G technology.
European countries have taken varying approaches to Huawei's 5G technology, with some EU members intensifying scrutiny of the company. In March, the German government considered removing Huawei from its 5G networks, and reports suggested that Portugal was also exploring a potential ban on Chinese 5G gear.
Nevertheless, Huawei is actively striving to maintain its presence in the European market. In a recent partnership with Spanish operator Cellnex, the company deployed microwave Long-Reach E-band backhaul technology in Poland, aiding the acceleration of the 5G roll-out. Additionally, Huawei collaborated with local partners to establish Europe's first 5G smart railway hub in Hungary, where its largest European logistics centre is located.
Though Huawei does not disclose detailed revenue breakdowns, it reported a 13.5% growth in sales in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region in 2022, amounting to 149 billion yuan (US$20.9 billion), representing nearly a quarter of its total revenue. Prior to the US sanctions, the EMEA region contributed 204.5 billion yuan or 28.4% of the company's total revenue in 2018.
Huawei Europe opposes the EU's reported plan to ban equipment from companies like Huawei, citing it as a politicization of cybersecurity evaluations and a hindrance to innovation.
The company argues that bans would have serious economic and social risks, increasing costs for digital services and distorting the EU market.
Huawei highlights its track record and denies any record of back doors in its equipment, countering concerns over security risks in 5G networks.