The domino effect is amplifying. In the wake of France, the United Kingdom and even Sweden, it is Romania’s turn to take measures to put Huawei offside in terms of 5G. The government on Thursday approved a bill – which has yet to be validated by Parliament – which aims to dismiss the Chinese mobile network giant. This specifies that“In the event of risks, threats or vulnerabilities to national security”, telecom equipment manufacturers will be refused to operate in the country. Huawei is not mentioned by name in the text. But it is he, and probably his compatriot ZTE, who is targeted.
This exclusion of the Chinese giant which does not say its name is very similar to the way France itself proceeded. To provide 5G network technologies and equipment, companies must imperatively seek the advice of the Supreme Defense Council (CSAT), chaired by Klaus Iohannis, the head of state. If the institution judges that the equipment presents a risk to national security, it will be banned. In France, the “Huawei law” forced operators to request authorizations from the National Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi). Unsurprisingly, only Chinese equipment was restricted …
Strong American influence in Romania
Bucharest’s anti-Huawei measures demonstrate the effectiveness of US lobbying in Europe to oust the group from Shenzhen. In recent months, Washington has spared no efforts to convince the Old Continent to exclude the equipment manufacturer – which it suspects of spying on behalf of Beijing – from 5G networks. In August 2019, former US President Donald Trump and Klaus Iohannis signed a joint declaration paving the way for a ban on the Chinese group. “We seek to avoid the security risks that accompany Chinese investments in 5G telecommunications networks”, underlined the document. In the process, George Zhang, the boss of Huawei in Romania, asked Bucharest to come back to this project. The leader then stressed that a departure from the group would lead to losses of 9.2 billion euros and “Thousands” jobs for the country.
The Romanian government has stuck to its positions. The executive remained upright in his boots despite the arrival at the White House of Joe Biden. The new American administration has decided to keep the pressure on the Chinese group, already excluded from 5G in the United States, and banned from sourcing “made in the USA” technologies. Last March, the FCC, the US telecoms regulator, again listed Huawei among companies considered a threat to the country. The institution ruled that the Chinese giant was still posing “An unacceptable risk” for national security.
Bucharest’s position is hardly surprising. The United States has had a very strong influence in Romania for a long time. This manifests itself in a number of strategic and sovereign sectors, in terms of defense or energy. Last October, the United States notably replaced China in the financing of a large nuclear project, worth 8 billion euros, relating to the construction of two new units of a power plant.
Excluding Huawei will not do Orange’s business. Lleader in mobile in Romania, thehe French telecoms giant works with a wide range of equipment manufacturers, including Huawei and its Chinese rival ZTE, also in the sights of the authorities. It is likely that in the long term, Orange will be forced to dismantle its “made in China” antennas to replace them with Nokia, Ericsson or Samsung, with whom it is already working in this country.