One of the world’s largest wireless carriers will temporarily stop purchasing products from Huawei Tech. as countries across the globe scrutinize their ties to the controversial Chinese telecommunications firm.
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Vodaphone Group, which has operations across Europe, will not buy components from Huawei for use in the core of the London-based firm’s new fifth-generation wireless network while it discusses with foreign governments and regulators their concerns with the telecom company, a spokeswoman confirmed to FOX Business.
While the halt is not permanent, it signals another escalation in what has become an international crusade to curb Huawei’s immense global influence.
In perhaps the starkest sign of the tensions to-date, the Trump administration said this week that it would seek to extradite to the U.S. one of the firm's top executives. CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in December in Canada amid allegations that she lied about Huawei’s operations in Iran, a country that is under strict U.S. sanctions.
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, speaking from the World Economic Forum, told FOX Business Huawei is their “biggest competitor on a global basis,” and added that the he had “no knowledge” of anything occurring in respect to the CFO’s arrest subsequent to a patent infringement lawsuit filed in the early 2000’s that was ultimately dropped in exchange for exchange for a promise from Huawei to modify its product lineup.
The episode has soured relationships between China and the Trump administraton at a time when the White House is attempting to negotiate a trade deal with the country. A group of 20 Chinese delegates will travel to Washington D.C. this coming week to continue discussions.
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U.S. officials say Huawei effectively operates as a conduit for Chinese espionage in the country and the government has banned the sale of products from the firm on military bases. Australia and New Zealand have also blocked it from supplying 5G equipment in the countries. Germany is also considering a ban.
Countries around the world are battling to be the first to launch a 5G network, which promises to provide broadband speeds without a hardwire connection. AT&T in January said it would seek to rollout a nationwide 5G network for business by 2020.