Portugal Latest Country Refusing US Demand to Bar Huawei From 5G Network

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LISBON – Despite Washington’s attempts to turn its allies away from working with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Portugal is not going to exclude the company from the rollout of 5G networks on its territory. Senior Portuguese officials told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the country’s stance on Huawei’s participation in the ultra-fast 5G networks on Thursday, according to AP.

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On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry lauded Portugal’s decision, calling on other countries to make their own independent choices on the matter. During his visit to Lisbon, Pompeo once again warned against bringing in 5G “untrusted networks”, hinting at Huawei and urging US allies to “carefully assess the risk of Chinese investments in these strategic and sensitive areas”.

Portugal enjoys a lot of investment from China, particularly in energy, electricity and banking, Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said during a joint news conference with Pompeo. And while the investment follows the EU rules, all the tenders and concessions are open and transparent, he added.

Local operators are already working with the Chinese tech major to build 5G network infrastructure in Portugal. Last month, Portuguese telecommunications operator NOS announced that it had fully covered the port city of Matosinhos in the north of the country with 5G signals in partnership with Huawei, making it “the first” city in Portugal with 5G coverage.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump added Huawei to the US trade blacklist, citing national security concerns amid the simmering trade war with China. The Chinese firm has repeatedly denied Washington’s allegations of espionage for Beijing. At the same time, the US has been trying to lobby its allies to ban the Shenzhen-based company from their networks.

While some European countries are still deciding on whether to allow their firms to use 5G technology developed by Huawei, others have made it clear that they are not going to bow to US pressure. For example, Spain has already launched its first commercial 5G mobile services in the country using Huawei equipment.

Several countries, including Norway, Hungary and France have announced that any company can participate in 5G deployment and the UK is still debating on the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier stated that Berlin will not ban any firm, but now her coalition says that the country’s parliament should decide the matter.

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