Why is Washington lashing out at Huawei?
Huawei is blacklisted in the US as of today, Friday. US firms are now banned from doing business with the Chinese telecommunications company without prior consent from the US administration. Washington accuses the company of intending to use its technology for spying, which Huawei flatly denies. Europe's commentators examine different ways of dealing with the 5G market leader.
Struggle for technological dominance
Ultimately the confrontation over Huawei is about the rivalry between the US and China, explains Filippo Santelli in La Repubblica:
“Trump has banned US telecommunications companies from using the products of companies whose networks represent a threat to national security. He hasn't mentioned names but it's well known that the United States sees Huawei, the global market leader in the 5G networks segment, as a potential Trojan horse for communist spies. The second step, however, is far more painful for the Shenzhen-based company. Having been added to the black list Huawei is at risk of a boycott that could deprive it of key components for its devices imported from the US. This makes it clear what is really behind the conflict between Washington and Beijing: the struggle for dominance over future technologies.”
Trump wants to bring his opponents to their knees
Europe and the US have fundamentally different approaches to China, observes journalist Pierre Haski in France Inter:
“As regards relations with the Chinese giant - a decisive issue for the 21st century - there are two different approaches. One is 'containment', a term that stems from the Cold War. This is Trump's approach, as he wants to force his opponents to their knees. The other - to stick with the Cold War terminology - is 'engagement', in other words developing a balance of power that steers clear of conflict while at the same time remaining firm on key issues. This is the new strategy of the Europeans. ... It is precisely this kind of issue that shows how very important Europe's role is.”
China forcing the West to sell out
Delo takes a deeply pessimistic view of the Huawei conflict:
“If Asia realises its development goals by 2021 its economic performance will be around 40 percent higher than that of the US. Whether we like it or not, we're all already working for China. We have accepted the price dumping trend. Everything is getting cheaper, including human lives. We are getting more and more quiet on the subject of 'human rights' to avoid looking stupid next to a country that has performed miracles without these rights. Through its networks and smartphones we see the future, the creation of which we left to the other continent long ago. Huawei is just the symbol of the fragility of our values and our lost ambitions. Without these, it doesn't matter who builds G5. What good will it do us?”
Trump has the upper hand against Europe
It's by no means certain that the Europeans will be able to withstand the pressure from Washington, Handelsblatt points out:
“The US government is threatening even close allies like Britain with cancelling the security partnership if they flout the ban on Huawei when setting up their 5G technology. And with the latent threat of tariffs on car imports the US president has a further means of pressuring Europe up his sleeve. In the end it won't be Macron or Merkel who decide which technology the European telecommunications branch uses but the companies themselves. And there, as we are seeing now with the Iran sanctions, thanks to the power of the dollar and the US economy, Donald Trump has the upper hand.”