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Donald Trump’s plan to isolate Huawei on the world stage is going down like a lead balloon.
While a series of measures announced this week aimed to ramp up pressure on U.S. allies to shun the Chinese telecom giant, none of them are so far rushing to follow Washington’s lead.
Instead, two of the U.S.’s staunchest allies — Paris and London — made it clear that they would make up their own minds about how to deal with Huawei, and that their decision might not resemble Washington’s.
In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed back on the idea that France should blacklist the Chinese firm, telling the VivaTech industry conference: “Our perspective is not to block Huawei or any company.”
Taking on the role of a spokesman for Europe, Macron added: “France and Europe are pragmatic and realistic” and would seek to balance “access to good technology and to preserve our national security” when taking steps on Chinese telecom gear.
Across the Channel in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May struck a cautious note, reiterating that the U.K. had yet to take a final decision on what restrictions to apply to Huawei and other Chinese firms. “We are reviewing the right policy approach for 5G and when an announcement is ready, the culture secretary will update parliament,” May’s spokesperson said.
The standoffish tone from two of Washington’s allies chimed with the message coming from Germany’s largest industrial lobby group, the BDI. “Europe needs to maintain its own course,” the group said in a statement. “German industry quickly needs legal and planning certainty in 5G expansion.”
In the past months the U.K., Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and other countries have sought to beef up their protections against malign use of 5G telecom equipment without necessarily adopting company- or country-specific bans.
Staunch U.S. allies like Poland — which is considering the construction of a “Fort Trump” base for U.S. troops in the country — are mulling similar moves but showed no sign of speeding up those efforts in the wake of Wednesday’s announcements.
The European Commission, which unveiled a strategy for dealing with 5G security in March, is coordinating a pan-EU review of security procedures, and has asked countries to finalize their risk assessments by end-June and submit them to the EU executive by mid-July.
The European Union is set to carry out its own risk assessment by October and a group of cybersecurity experts is due to agree on EU-wide measures by year-end.
U.S. tech group warns of ‘unintended impacts’
Huawei would be able to maintain its business in spite of the U.S. ban, thanks to other markets.