China Lashes Out at ‘Political’ Accusations Against Tech Firms

(Bloomberg) -- China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his government is seeking fair competition and he warned against nations targeting Chinese companies when developing next generation wireless telecommunication networks, known as 5G.

“What we oppose is groundless accusations, out of political purposes, and attempts to bring down a foreign company,” Wang told reporters in Brussels on Monday before meeting with his European Union counterparts. “We think such practices are abnormal, immoral and have no support from other countries.”

The EU is growing increasingly alarmed about technology-related security risks from China following U.S. allegations about potential threats posed by Chinese telecom equipment. The European Parliament last week stressed the need for the bloc to protect 5G networks and to bolster cybersecurity defenses in general, while the EU Commission called the Beijing government “a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that European ministers would discuss with Wang the need to “ensure that the cyber domain is regulated and international rules also can be applied to cyberspace, so that cyberspace is secure and open.” But she added that it’s up to individual member states to decide which companies to exclude from their markets on national-security reasons.

The U.S. has warned that equipment provider Huawei Technologies Co. could enable Chinese espionage and has urged European allies to avoid partnering with the company. France has said it will impose new checks on equipment makers including Huawei.

EU leaders will discuss relations with China, as well as a “concerted approach to the security of 5G networks,” later this week in Brussels, according to a draft of their summit’s conclusions seen by Bloomberg News. Earlier, EU ministers may issue a joint statement calling for cybersecurity to be taken into consideration in telecoms procurement, according to a separate draft communique also seen by Bloomberg.

“We hope and we believe that European countries or other countries will have independence in making their own choice and their own judgment,” Wang said, adding that cybersecurity is “a shared international challenge.”

China is ready to work with other countries to enhance cooperation “and work out universally accepted rules and principles,” he said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.