European Union joins the Huawei fray, without mentioning its name

Foreign Affairs

The South China Morning Post reports:

The European Union is urging its leaders to take a tougher stand on mounting China-related trade, technology and geostrategic concerns, a major step that could overshadow the country’s relations with Europe for years to come, analysts said.

Following Washington’s lead, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, released a paper on [March 12] which for the first time labelled China an “economic competitor” and “a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”

The paper urged EU leaders meeting in Brussels next week to adopt a 10-point action plan that would establish a more balanced and reciprocal economic relationship with China while solidifying the resolve of the 28 EU member states to counter the Asian country’s influence, the bloc’s top trading partner.

The paper has 10 recommendations. Some of them are vanilla — calls to ensure China meets its carbon emission targets as set out by the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to deepen engagement on peace and security. But in other recommendations, Brussels sounds a lot more like Washington. Throughout the paper, there are various expressions of a demand for a “more balanced and reciprocal economic relationship.” And then there is the sting in the tail: 5G and network security. The last two recommendations are, as summarized by the EU:

Action 9: To safeguard against potential serious security implications for critical digital infrastructure, a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks is needed. To kickstart this, the European Commission will issue a Recommendation following the European Council.

Action 10: To detect and raise awareness of security risks posed by foreign investment in critical assets, technologies and infrastructure, Member States should ensure the swift, full and effective implementation of the Regulation on screening of foreign direct investment.

Huawei is not mentioned by name in the report. Other news from the Huawei war:

  • Canadian canola: “Canada’s recently appointed agriculture minister said the federal government is pressing China to provide verification of its claims that Canadian canola exports have been contaminated by harmful organisms,” according to CBC.
  • “Princeton, Stanford, Ohio University and the University of California at Berkeley all say they are cutting or reducing ties to Huawei,” reports Bloomberg (porous paywall). “The company gave $10.6 million in gifts and contracts to nine U.S. schools for technology and communications programs from 2012 to 2018, according to the Education Department.”
  • “Sweden wants to tighten requirements for operators and suppliers of telecoms equipment amid concerns over network security, the minister for digital development said on [March 13],” reports Reuters. “We want to be able to exclude components, suppliers and operators who do not meet sufficiently high security standards.”