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Europe offers solace after US ruling

Updated: 2012-10-12 10:00
By Diao Ying, Shen Jingting and Li Xiang ( China Daily)

Europe offers solace after US ruling

Huawei and ZTE, which are growing rapidly, should not abandon the US market, says Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Jian Hua / for China Daily

A US congressional report is warning American companies about dealing with two Chinese telecom equipment makers, but that does not mean they do not have friends elsewhere

Anyone in London who wants a touch of contemporary China need not jump on a plane and travel 8,000 kilometers; all they have to do is pop down to the nearest mobile telephone shop. There, among the iPhones and Galaxys, they are likely to be able to run their fingers over one of their lesser-known siblings, the Huawei mobile phone.

Born and bred in China, this phone does not quite have the worldwide following of its big brothers, something the people at Huawei would no doubt like to change.

But for all those in London and in the rest of Europe who might be willing to give Huawei a go, across the Atlantic the company has a group of detractors who are very wary of the company and its intentions.

This week those detractors in the US issued a report, citing national security concerns, warning US companies against doing business with Huawei or with its smaller Chinese rival ZTE.

This followed a year-long investigation by the House of Representatives intelligence committee, which received submissions from both companies saying they were open and transparent, and both of whom voiced disappointment after the committee finding.

A spokesman for ZTE, David Dai, says that while opposition to and skepticism about both companies has always existed, that does not reflect the goodwill toward them by most European countries, where they have taken part in many infrastructure projects.

In Britain, Huawei's business is big and expanding fast. It has 650 employees working there and aims to increase that to 1,000 over the next three years. It sells networking equipment and software to British telecoms including BT and Virgin Media. It runs a research and development center in eastern England. Prime Minister David Cameron met Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei last month, when Huawei said it would invest more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion, 1.2 billion euros) in Britain and create 500 jobs.

ZTE is also active in Europe. It is working with local telecoms in building broadband networks in Germany and Sweden, and supplies 3G and 4G equipment to telecoms in Portugal.

While some media reports have talked of some European countries giving the two Chinese companies the cold shoulder, Dai says that is unlikely. European governments have different opinions about these companies, and the market situation in each country within the European Union is different, he says.

Though some European countries harbor the same kinds of doubts as the US about the two companies and national security, these do not represent the mainstream view, Dai says. Overall, Europe is more open than the US, he says.

A representative of Ofcom, the British telecommunication regulator, asked by China Daily whether Britain would take measures similar to those of the Americans, replied: "I am afraid we have no comment as this matter relates to a US action."

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