As Europe begins cautiously to return to some sort of normal, it’s clear that, in the past few months many things have changed, writes Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions Abraham Liu.
For us at Huawei, one of those things is the level of political attack on us, a private company, by a Western superpower.
The period during lockdown has seen an amount of anti-Huawei rhetoric unimaginable a couple of years ago.
The new position announced by the United Kingdom earlier this week is a manifestation of the pressure put on it by the United States over the first half of this year. A coordinated attack to lock Huawei out of the global tech supply chain.
Let me be clear — the decision is not about security — it is about trade. It is a US-led campaign, focused on attacking a successful and trusted business, and attacking the technology, purely because the US lags behind in that technology.
We have been working in the UK and across Europe as a trusted partner for over 20 years. As far we are concerned nothing has changed.
Yes, we are a Chinese company! We cannot change that and, in fact, we are proud of that. And yes, we are a leader in our field!
But we are also a private company, modelled on some of the greatest Western companies ever.
We have observed the best of European and American business practices and applied them to our company, growing it into an international success story. That we have overtaken our competitors is not our fault.
Indeed, we represent the kind of innovative spirit that drives social progress. If there is any private company that embodies the best of both East and West, it’s Huawei. Europe should look to us to bridge the gap and create a joint vision for the future.
Believe me when I tell you — Huawei does not want to dominate the world. You do not need to fear us. We believe in a multi-vendor approach based on fair competition. There is room for everyone. Indeed, a competitive field drives innovation and progress.
And this is where I firmly believe Europe needs to stick to its guns and make the right choice. With the 5G toolbox, which we welcomed when launched, the EU has already demonstrated that it can take a sensible and forward-thinking approach. It has mobilized the best of its values and traditions to come up with fair and sensible guidance on how individual member countries should approach 5G, based on verification, competition and a level playing field for all.
This approach allows companies like Huawei to contribute to making Europe a leader in the digital era. But it also ensures that no single country or company can have technological dominance in the future. This is genuine ‘strategic autonomy’.
The technology we are involved in has the potential to transform the world for the better and do so much good. This has been demonstrated during the lockdowns, but this won’t be the case if the world decouples and fragments.
Europe should be under no illusions — everyone, not least Europe, will lose if this happens.
It is time for Europe to make its own decisions based on facts, and not allow itself to be used as another political football by those with their own economic and strategic self-interests. Let’s remember, U.S. interests — because that is what we are talking about — do not necessarily align with European ones. Often they run counter to them. Ask yourselves this, is it just Huawei the US wants to kill, or is it also Europe’s ambition?
You may not agree with a country’s government on many things, but that should not stop you doing business with a private company just because it’s from that country.
Punishing a company just because of where it was born goes against all the values the EU says it holds so dear, and that I have come to admire. After all, is not United in Diversity — the EU motto — the cornerstone of the European way of life?
The EU is founded on fairness, on equal opportunities, on the principles of the free market. It has led the way in the arena of consumer rights and protections. But where are those same protections for a company that merely wants to do business in one of the most exciting and diverse markets of all?
Europe, and its leaders, must recognize that this zero-sum game will be hugely damaging to all involved , whose connectivity is made possible by Huawei now. They rely on their leaders to make the right decisions for their futures based on facts, not fiction.
The future of Europe’s ability to compete with the rest of the world, for that is what we are talking about here, should not be left up to the strategic aims of competing superpowers. People are at the heart of what Europe stands for and it is the people who will ultimately suffer if calmer minds do not prevail.
EU-China investment deal stalls
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis confirms that progress on the investment deal with China has stalled following March sanctions.
The EU concluded what Dombrovskis describes as an “asymmetric deal” with China at the end of last year. Known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), it was presented on 30 December.
Today (5 May) he said: ”There are substantially more new commitments from China as regards market access, with regards to the level playing field and this is something that European companies have been asking us for for many years. So as regards the agreement itself, that technical work is ongoing to prepare the ground for ratification.”
At the time of the agreement Dombrovskis said: “This deal will give European businesses a major boost in one of the world's biggest and fastest-growing markets, helping them to operate and compete in China. It also anchors our values-based trade agenda with one of our largest trading partners. We have secured binding commitments on the environment, climate change and combatting forced labour. We will engage closely with China to ensure that all commitments are honoured fully.”
Wider political context
When asked about whether the deal had been suspended, Dombrovskis said that the position of the European Commission has not changed. He said that the “ratification process of comprehensive agreement on investment cannot be separated from the wider political context. I will repeat that the ratification process cannot be separated from evolving dynamics of the wider EU-China relationship. And in this context, Chinese sanctions targeting among others members of European Parliament and even an entire parliamentary subcommittee are unacceptable and regrettable, and prospects and next steps concerning ratification on comprehensive agreement of investment will depend on how the situation evolves.”
The Commission faced much criticism when the agreement was reached, by appearing to move ahead of the United States, before the new administration had taken office. It was felt by some that the EU should wait to see if there was the possibility of finding common cause with the new Biden team.
There were also accusations that the EU was ignoring China’s human rights record, particularly in relation to the treatment of the Uyghur muslim population in Xianjang province and the crackdown on the democracy protesters and the introduction of the national security law in Hong Kong.
G7 to discuss decisive action to counter threats like Russia and China
Britain on Tuesday (4 May) sought to agree decisive action from G7 partners to protect democracies against global threats like those posed by China and Russia.
Hosting the second day of a foreign ministers' meeting in London designed to lay the groundwork for a leaders' summit in June, Dominic Raab (pictured) will lead talks among the Group of Seven wealthy nations on threats to democracy, freedoms and human rights.
"The UK’s presidency of the G7 is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is much needed to tackle shared challenges and rising threats," Raab said in a statement.
In addition to the G7 members Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, Britain has also invited ministers from Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea this week.
Their first face-to-face meeting in two years is seen by Britain as a chance to reinforce support for the rules-based international system at a time when it says China's economic influence and Russian malign activity threaten to undermine it.
On Monday (3 May), having met with Raab, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a need to try to forge a global alliance of freedom loving countries, though stressed he did not want to hold China down, but make sure it played by the rules. Read more
Tuesday's discussion also covered the coup in Myanmar, urging stronger action against the military junta in the form of expanded sanctions, support for arms embargoes and more humanitarian assistance.
In the afternoon talks will turn to Russia, including how to respond to a troop manoeuvres on the border with Ukraine and the imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Raab said on Sunday he wanted the G7 to consider a joint rebuttal unit to tackle Russian disinformation and propaganda. Read more
De-coupling from China would be the wrong way to go, Germany warns
The European Union needs to engage with China despite many differences instead of opting for a more isolationist approach, Germany said on Wednesday (21 April).
"In the EU, we have been describing China as a partner, competitor and systemic rival at the same time," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (pictured) said ahead of a virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
"In all these three dimensions we need strong, sustainable communication channels with Beijing. De-coupling is the wrong way to go."
Berlin's warning against de-coupling is in line with Beijing's long-held position against disengagement among nations, including with China, despite mutual differences.
Last month, China was hit by a round of coordinated sanctions from the United States, European Union, Britain and Canada over reports of forced labour in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, accusations that Beijing rejects.
Ties between China and Germany have generally remained stable since last year, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said later in his meeting with Maas.
Wang also said major economies like China and Germany should jointly resist any de-coupling, and instead seek to uphold the stability of global industrial and supply chains, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.
At the same time, China does not approve of any re-drawing of ideological lines, and is even more opposed to engaging in “small cliques”, and even arbitrarily imposing unilateral sanctions based on false information, Wang said.
Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in his first face-to-face White House summit since taking office, where both leaders said they shared serious concerns about the human rights situation in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
In a show of economic cooperation to the exclusion of China, Biden said Japan and the United States would jointly invest in the tech sector including semiconductor supply chains.
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