5G: will Europe copy London's U-turn?

In January, despite pressure from the US, London decided to allow Huawei, the Chinese global leader in communications services, to participate in the development of the new 5G mobile network in the UK. Now the government has reversed the decision and announced that all components that have already been installed will be removed from the network. Commentators discuss how the rest of Europe should respond.

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La Stampa (IT) /

The UK has sided with the US

Writing in La Stampa, columnist Gianni Riotta sees a connection with current skirmishes between Chinese and US warships:

“Weighing two hundred thousand tons and equipped with four nuclear reactors, the American aircraft carriers USS Reagan and USS Nimitz seem to have little to do with the invisible attractions of the digital. And yet there is a clear connection between their presence in the South China Sea and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's clear rejection of the agreements with the Chinese giant Huawei on 5G announced in London on Tuesday. ... The duel between the US and China is intensifying as the election race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden gains pace, and London has reached a decision. ... It is siding with Washington, well aware that a victory for Biden will do nothing to diminish the strategic rivalry with Beijing.”

De Tijd (BE) /

Europe in a dilemma

London has made its choice, comments De Tijd:

“The digital cold war is about power. The US doesn't want to give up its leading role in key sectors of the digital world and is trying to prevent China from becoming a major competitor. ... Europe is moving towards the US because it has no other option. ... The fear of American sanctions runs deep. The US has a reputation for intervening worldwide if its sanctions are not adhered to. ... European countries and companies will inevitably pay a price for their stance. China will also impose sanctions on them. And this will put more pressure on world trade.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Criticise but please don't start a war

A sense of proportion is needed in dealing with China, Berlingske stresses:

“We don't have to agree with the Americans' methods for setting boundaries with China. We won't mark our presence with warships in the shipping channels off the Chinese coast. We still believe that strong protest, conveyed through effective diplomacy and in direct talks with Beijing, is the path to success, because unfortunately we are in a phase of conflict where things could get really dangerous, for example if a warship makes a mistake. ... It must be made clear to China that its actions are not compatible with a liberal world order and will have consequences. However the consequence is not war, but exclusion from international forums and isolation - until the Chinese learn that greatness entails responsibility.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

An extension of the Chinese state

The West must stop being naive in its dealings with China, warns Svenska Dagbladet:

“The world seems to be approaching a situation similar to the Cold War. With the crucial difference that today China uses capitalism as a security policy weapon. It protects its own markets and only opens up parts of them to competition. At the same time, it is using supposedly private companies to buy influence in the West, where it can then compete freely. This is an unfair game with advantages for China that has been going on for far too long. ... Trade policy is also security policy. Chinese companies like Huawei are the extended arm of the state, and they must be seen as such.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Suspicions that border on being a conspiracy theory

Driven by paranoia, Britain is gambling away its future, comments The Spectator:

“The suggestion is that Huawei - and for Huawei, read China - has a mysterious way of remotely accessing their hardware on the UK network (which is reasonable), and then is processing the data on it to send back to China (which is not). ... It's an idea that borders on being a conspiracy theory. ... Ultimately, it's the British citizen who will lose out most on the Huawei decision, because there's absolutely no other decent contender in the market to provide this technology - technology which will enable self-driving cars to deliver your grocery shopping for you, or that can improve the UK's ability to work from home.”