China warned France against treating Huawei Technologies Co. differently from European competitors when it comes to future 5G network equipment contracts, as the U.S. mounts a campaign to keep the Chinese tech giant at bay.
In a lengthy statement issued on Sunday on its website, the Chinese embassy in Paris urged France to establish “transparent criteria and treat all companies in a similar way,” referring to telecom equipment makers.
It also warned that a difference in treatment based on the country of origin would be considered “blatant discrimination” and “disguised protectionism.”
The statement also carried a veiled warning.
“We do not wish to see the development” in China of Finland’s Nokia Oyj and Sweden’s Ericsson AB being “impacted because of discrimination and protectionism” against Huawei by France and other European countries, the embassy said.
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The statement comes as France prepares to auction off 5G spectrum in April. France’s main carrier, Orange SA, has already announced it would leave Huawei out of its 5G network and work instead with Nokia and Ericsson.
But two other French carriers who’ve been reliant on Huawei for their 4G networks, Altice Europe NV’s SFR and Bouygues SA’s telecom unit, have yet to say who their 5G partners will be.
The U.S. has been pressuring European allies to ban Huawei over fears that China’s government may be able to access its systems for spying. Huawei and Beijing officials deny there’s any such risk.
“Huawei’s 5G equipment are totally safe” and have never presented any “backdoor” lapses, the statement from the embassy added.