Abraham Liu is a man with a mission. As the Huawei’s new Chief Representative to the European Union, his role is to convince EU politicians and policy makers that his company is a leading global provider of information and communications infrastructure and smart devices that can be trusted, and not a vehicle for Chinese spying.
American officials made clear that they view Huawei, one of China’s biggest firms, as a threat to national security, since it builds the telecoms networks that underpin modern societies.
Australia recently prohibited Huawei’s 5g equipment. Japan has toughened its rules. The EU is now considering if it should also take similar action.
During a press conference on Artificial Intelligence on 2nd February, European Commission Vice President Ansip responded to a question regarding Huawei’s role in some European driverless cars and 5G projects in the context of security allegations against the company.
Huawei’s response was immediate and unequivocal, with Abraham Liu, President of Huawei’s EU office, defending the company: “We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat. We are open to a dialogue with Vice President Andrus Ansip to address these misunderstandings and intend to continue our longstanding cooperation with the European Commission as a private, employee owned company.
"We are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Huawei has never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks, and we would never tolerate such behaviour by any of our staff.
"Cyber security has always been our top priority and we have a proven track record of providing secure products and solutions for our customers in Europe and around the world. Today, the ICT supply chain is highly globalized. Cyber security needs to be addressed jointly at a global level, and equipment vendors should not be treated differently based on their country of origin.
"Singling out one vendor does nothing to help the industry identify and address cyber security threats more effectively.
"We stand ready to provide any information and are committed to maintaining an open dialogue with our European partners on security-related issues.”
Britain has a board that allows its intelligence services to review Huawei’s equipment. Germany has copied it and Singapore may follow.
Some 170 countries that use Huawei must now decide whether doing business with it is safe.
Abraham Liu, as President of Huawei’s EU office, will be bringing all his formidable skills to bear to convince EU politicians and policy makers that Huawei’s goal is to build a better-connected world, not to spy on it.
Police break up Brussels anti-lockdown party
Police fired water cannon and tear gas in a Brussels park on Saturday (1 May) to break up an anti-lockdown party of several hundred people designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules. The crowd of mostly young people responded to a post on Facebook announcing the unauthorised party. It took place a month after police cleared 2,000 people who gathered in the same Bois de la Cambre park for la Boum (the party), an event that had begun as an April Fool's joke.
The follow-up Boum 2 event on 1 May, a traditional day for demonstrations, was held a week before the Belgian government allows cafe and bar terraces to open and lets groups of more than four people meet outside in a relaxation of COVID-19 rules.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged Belgians on Friday to stay united and not "fall into this trap". Facebook also took down the Boum 2 post on Thursday (29 April) after a request from Belgian prosecutors, who warned partygoers they risked being detained or fined.
Police said several hundred people still attended.
Emile Breuillot, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people enjoy themselves and to defend their rights to gather.
After a calm start with groups chanting "freedom", the police announced on social media that attendees were not observing public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people were not wearing masks, a requirement anywhere in public in the Belgian capital.
Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege demanding a relaxation of coronavirus measures.
Biden to travel to UK and Belgium in June - White House
US President Joe Biden (pictured) will travel to the United Kingdom and Belgium in June for his first overseas trip since taking office, the White House said on Friday (23 April).
The trip aims to highlight the US president's "commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies", White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The announcement was made as Biden concluded hosting a global climate summit that marked a renewed US engagement in climate efforts.
Biden will attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall, UK, from 11-13 June, where he will hold bilateral meetings with G7 leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the White House said.
From there, Biden will travel to Brussels for the NATO Summit on 14 June. "President Biden will affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, transatlantic security, and collective defence," Psaki said.
Commission approves €10 million Belgian scheme to support organizers of festivals in the Flemish and Brussels Regions in context of the coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved a €10 million Belgian scheme to support organizers of festivals that are planned to take place in the Flemish and Brussels Regions in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. Under this scheme, the support will take the form of direct grants. Beneficiaries will receive up to €500,000 to cover the costs incurred for the organization and production of the festivals as well as for the implementation of measures that the Belgian authorities had to impose to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that the beneficiaries are facing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support will not exceed €1.8m per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the aid can be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.62017 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
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