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Despite 5G Ban, Huawei’s Influence Increases In Europe Through Academic Partnerships

April 9th, 2021 10:50

The Cen­ter for Euro­pean Pol­i­cy Analy­sis (CEPA), a US think tank, is report­ing that even though most of Europe has blocked Huawei’s abil­i­ty to build 5G infra­struc­ture, the Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions giant might still be able to access Euro­pean data and influ­ence the indus­tries through aca­d­e­m­ic part­ner­ships and deals in AI research and smart city devel­op­ment. Accord­ing to a CEPA report:

March 23, 2021 As of Spring 2021, most of Europe has blocked Huawei’s abil­i­ty to build 5G infra­struc­ture, or at least increased the scruti­ny around 5G infra­struc­ture bids. […] Even so, Huawei has stat­ed that it is not con­cerned about geopo­lit­i­cal head­winds, with the company’s chair­man, Eric Xu, stat­ing: “[The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment] will not stand by and watch Huawei being slaugh­tered on the chop­ping block.” […]

In Europe, Huawei has con­clud­ed that there is more than one way to skin a rab­bit. The com­pa­ny has now shift­ed the bat­tle­field to arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI), one of the many tech­nolo­gies that could flour­ish with 5G’s faster speeds. Take Slo­va­kia. The coun­try osten­si­bly remains on the fence on the use of Huawei in its 5G infra­struc­ture, but the Slo­vak Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty in Kosice recent­ly announced its intent to estab­lish an AI research cen­ter in tan­dem with the Chi­nese firm. Oth­er schools in Slo­va­kia, includ­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Zili­na, are work­ing with Huawei on “safe city” ini­tia­tives, described by crit­ics as a means to export author­i­tar­i­an­ism because of their empha­sis on dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance. 5G was always a means to an end for Chi­na, part of that end includ­ed dom­i­nat­ing the com­mer­cial, intel­li­gence, and mil­i­tary appli­ca­tions for AI. Part­ner­ships with Euro­pean uni­ver­si­ties on AI and smart cities are a back­door for Chi­na to access Euro­pean data, and influ­ence the indus­tries of the future with­out the need for Huawei 5G infrastructure.

Read the rest here.

The CEPA report con­cludes that even though US pres­sure has helped push many Euro­pean allies to place stricter secu­ri­ty restric­tions on their 5G telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works, there is an urgent need for new leg­is­la­tion in Wash­ing­ton and Brus­sels to improve the trans­paren­cy of fund­ing for uni­ver­si­ty high-tech projects.

The BBC report­ed in Octo­ber 2020 on the results of a UK Par­lia­men­tary inquiry that concluded:

It is clear that Huawei is strong­ly linked to the Chi­nese state and the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, despite its state­ments to the con­trary,” the com­mit­tee con­cludes. “This is evi­denced by its own­er­ship mod­el and the sub­si­dies it has received.”

In March, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed about two Europe-wide pro-Huawei dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns involv­ing a net­work of fake web­sites ped­dling pro-Huawei content.