Digital animation for 5G with Chinese and Portuguese flags

China’s Ambassador to Portugal, Zhao Bentang, defended Huawei’s role in Portuguese 5G technology and rejected a “Cold War mentality”.

China’s Ambassador to Portugal, Zhao Bentang, defended the role of China’s Huawei, considered by the authorities to be a high risk for the development of 5G telecommunications, in Portuguese technology and rejected a “Cold War mentality” on the issue.

In an interview with the Lusa news agency, the diplomat said that Huawei’s 5G began in 2003 and with the company Altice there was “important cooperation”, resulting in Portugal having this technology.

And “it has never been in danger, it has never had confidentiality problems”, the diplomat stressed.

“As in other areas, cooperation in technology has helped Portugal’s development and also benefits the Chinese side. These are very obvious projects of mutual benefit,” said Zhao Bentang.

“Treating these issues with a Cold War mentality or intervening in a forced way is like a violation of international rules, a violation of the benefit of others,” he stressed.

“I don’t believe it benefits Portugal or China. We are totally against it and oppose it. We have always wanted to communicate and coordinate so that cooperation runs smoothly,” concluded the ambassador to Lusa, in response to doubts raised about Chinese technology.

In September 2023, the European Commission said that it was up to European Union (EU) member states to decide which manufacturers to exclude from the development of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks.

“From day one, when we put in place the so-called ‘toolbox’ on 5G, we obviously didn’t mention any company, but we did mention the risk that any country should avoid when selecting or having its companies select suppliers and, of course, the decision was taken by them [Portugal],” said EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.

The commissioner said that “Huawei has some parts of equipment that have no problem, but others may have a problem and it’s up to the member states to decide”.

A few days before the European Commissioner’s statements, Huawei had confirmed that it had filed an “administrative action with the Administrative Court of Lisbon against deliberation 1/2023 and related documents concerning 5G equipment, issued by the Security Assessment Commission (CAS)”.

In May, the CAS, as part of the High Council for Cyberspace Security, issued a resolution on the “high risk” to the security of 5G networks and services of using equipment from suppliers that, among other criteria, are from outside the EU, NATO or OECD and that “the legal system of the country in which it is domiciled” or connected “allows the government to exercise control, interference or pressure over its activities operating in third countries”.

Assumed as a European priority, the commitment to 5G has also raised concerns about cybersecurity, with Huawei at the center of controversy over alleged spying on 5G equipment, which the technology company has rejected, reiterating the lack of evidence.

The Chinese ambassador to Portugal told Lusa that “China advocates a mutually beneficial and more inclusive economic globalization and technological cooperation helps and benefits both sides”.

On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the diplomat also highlighted how Chinese companies entered Portugal after the financial crisis, “at a very difficult time”, always with an emphasis on cooperation and to “help get out of the crisis”.

“Portuguese leaders always remember this history”, with cooperation initially based mainly on traditional sectors such as “finance, banking, energy”, he stressed.

But the focus has shifted to “new areas of technology, innovation, education and renewable resources” such as electric cars, lithium batteries, and “we are also looking into building a joint health research center,” he said.

“With new concepts of economic development, we have new areas of cooperation,” he summarized.

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