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EU says China’s Huawei, ZTE pose higher risk to bloc security

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BRUSSELS, Belgium—Chinese telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE pose a risk to the EU’s security, the European Commission warned Thursday, as it announced it will no longer use services that rely on the companies.

“The commission considers that Huawei and ZTE represent in fact materially higher risks than other 5G suppliers,” the EU’s executive arm said in a statement.

It added the commission “will take relevant security measures so as not to procure new connectivity services that rely on equipment from those suppliers”.

The EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, called on the 27 member states and telecoms operators to exclude Huawei and ZTE equipment from their mobile networks.

“We cannot afford to maintain critical dependencies that could become a ‘weapon’ against our interests. That would be too critical a vulnerability and too serious a risk to our common security,” Breton said during a press conference in Brussels.

Some 24 EU member states have adopted the rules or are laying down the groundwork to give national authorities powers to issue restrictions, the commission said.

But Breton pointed out that only 10 members, without naming which countries, had used the rules to restrict or exclude high-risk vendors.

“This is too slow, and it poses a major security risk and exposes the union’s collective security, since it creates a major dependency for the EU and serious vulnerabilities,” he said.

The move comes three years after the commission introduced strict 5G rules but they did not include an outright ban on any supplier and did not name Huawei.

Thursday’s announcement, therefore, marks a departure for the bloc and represents the EU’s increasingly tougher line on China, while maintaining ties with Beijing.

The United States has put pressure on Europe to exclude the companies over national security concerns and last year issued a ban on the import or sale of communications equipment from Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE.

Washington has previously expressed fears that Huawei equipment could be compromised by Chinese intelligence. AFP

Britain has also blocked Huawei’s involvement in the roll-out of its 5G telecoms network. AFP


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