Why would Poland want to ban Huawei?
Poland’s top officials are bending over backward to accommodate Washington’s interventionist agenda. Besides the threat of a blanket ban on our telecoms equipment, Poland has started to strengthen its ties with the U.S. – and at the expense of its relations closer to home. It must be welcome news to Poland’s neighbors that the U.S. military is exploring permanent bases for a ‘Fort Trump’, or that Poland is purchasing U.S. mobile rocket launchers worth US$414 million (365 million euros) as it prepares to co-host an international conference on the Middle East. Seen in this context, a ban on Huawei equipment looks like a missive sent direct from Washington.
The international community is worried these moves could have serious repercussions for Poland, leaving the country further isolated in Europe and at a technological and economic disadvantage for years to come. As Piotr Buras, the director of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in a statement to media: “What worries me is that the Polish government is putting its eggs almost completely in Trump’s basket. Not even the U.S. basket, but Trump’s basket…All of this is at the expense of relations with EU partners, and even at the expense of NATO unity.” This has been echoed by Poland’s allies: Czech president Milos Zeman warned that moves against Huawei would hurt his country’s economic interests; and Slovakia’s prime minister Peter Pellegrini advised politicians should “be careful not to become a tool in a trade war or fight between competitors.”
Poland’s remarkable economic transformation since 1989, accelerated by its membership of the EU in 2004, has redrawn the Union’s center of influence. Poland is now the EU’s eighth largest economy and officially a Central European member state. It is the linchpin in Europe’s relations with its Eastern partners and, as many now regard it as a future economic powerhouse, it has become crucial to the roll-out of 5G in Europe and for many other transformative technologies.
Huawei has had a significant role in the development of the county’s telecoms infrastructure during Poland’s rise into a strong economic performer and we hope this relationship will continue. Last year, we supplied the equipment for Poland’s first 5G networks launched by T-Mobile and Orange. We believe these allegations from the U.S. are part of a global campaign to persuade its allies to block Huawei from participating in their 5G networks. This has little to do with security concerns and everything to do with the suppression of a rising technological competitor. The real threat facing Poland isn’t Huawei, it is the politics of fear that will prevent the country from realizing its technological and economic potential.
According to McKinsey, Europe’s technological development is already out of step with the rest of the world. The European Commission estimates the 5G era will bring €113 billion to the EU’s automotive, health, transport and energy sectors by 2025, but if Huawei is the only company that can provide end-to-end 5G systems – from smartphone chips to wireless base station antenna to network routers and switches – then how will European economies recover from the blackout that has been proposed? We have the equipment and the know-how to bring better wireless service and a pronounced economic advantage to countries around the world. According to an expert at Britain’s largest telecom operator, BT, Huawei is the “only true 5G supplier.”
Many companies believe the roll-out of 5G will take longer and cost more if Huawei is removed from the process.
The harm caused by a ban would not be limited to telecom operators. Excluding Huawei would also keep businesses and households in Poland from getting the best technology available and would force them to accept whatever is available – most likely inferior service at higher prices.
However the current situation in Poland plays out, Huawei has spent the last three decades creating innovative technology and establishing trusted relationships with our customers and partners. We will continue to work with governments, telecom operators, and enterprise customers to build the best, and most secure, networks in the world.