Vice President of Huawei CEE & Nordic Europe Region, Radosław Kędzia, said during his meeting with Greek journalists at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that Huawei's intention is to maintain and intensify its presence in the Greek market, which began about two decades ago, despite growing and re-emerging security concerns in Germany and across Europe.
As he pointed out, Greece is a valuable market for Huawei with many successes in the past in a series of projects and actions through partners and with significant prospects for the future.
According to Radosław Kędzia, the company aims for long-term relationships with its partners and mentioned, among other things, projects that focus on the fields of education, start-ups, etc.
He also referred to the range of services offered by Huawei, adapting to the needs and demands of the markets. "The reason we offer such a broad portfolio is so that everyone can see what kind of digital steps forward they can take," he said, referring, among other things, to fifth generation networks.
Asked about the day after 5G, he pointed out that preparation for 5.5G has begun. We don't expect it to happen tomorrow, every market is different, every consumer's expectations are different, and so is the adoption of every technology. In any case, however, Huawei wants to be prepared, he added, pointing out that 5.5G is a necessary and natural evolution of 5G, something the industry "unanimously agrees with".
Germany's government said Tuesday it is carrying out a review of tech suppliers such as China's Huawei and ZTE, whose equipment is used in Germany's 5G networks.
Maximilian Kall, a spokesperson for Germany's Interior Ministry, confirmed the review in a press conference, saying it is important for German telecommunications operators to "not be too reliant on certain providers," and warning that if security risks are discovered by early April, German firms would not be compensated by the government for parts that would need to be ripped out of their networks and replaced.
The comments came after German media outlets Die Zeit and Handelsblatt reported on Monday that Berlin is planning to ban certain components made by Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE from use in Germany's 5G networks.
A 2022 report compiled by Danish firm Strand Consult found that 59% of the components that made up Germany's 5G radio access network were supplied by Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE.
If such a ban were imposed, Germany would join Britain and Sweden in banning the Chinese companies' equipment in their 5G critical infrastructure.
The U.S. has also banned Huawei, and placed extraordinary restrictions on sale of semiconductors to the telecom giant.
Such a ban would mark a turning point for Germany's relationship with China.
"The 5G decision should have been the easy part and should have been done long ago," says Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin.
"You don't make yourself dependent on companies that are beholden to the Chinese party-state, because that would repeat mistakes we've made with Russia."
A ban would make Germany the latest European country, albeit the largest economy and with the closest commercial ties, to sour on China.
Analysts and experts say this is a trend expected to accelerate in the coming years, as China's ties with the U.S. especially — and the West in general — sour over everything from trade and human rights, to support for Russia in its war in Ukraine, and over Taiwan.
A transatlantic survey by the German Marshall Fund last September showed a plurality of European respondents support a "tougher" approach toward China, with nearly half of all respondents placing Beijing in either the "competitor" or "rival" category.
This was particularly pronounced in Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. "I think the tide in Europe has turned in the last few years," says Martin Hala, director of Sinopsis, a Prague-based think-tank that follows China.
"It's pretty much the same process of awakening to some of the unpleasant realities [of China] that we have seen in the United States and Australia before that," adds Hala.
The European Union and China have been strategic partners since 2003.
However, more recently, EU officials have sharpened their political stance against Beijing by labeling China as a "systemic rival" and "strategic competitor" of the EU. Most EU member states, and NATO members, have sided with the U.S. in labeling China a potential threat.
Even before this week's announcement on the Huawei and ZTE review, Germany had already sharpened its stance on China in official documents.
But even so, Chancellor Olaf Scholz became the first world leader to visit China's Xi Jinping in November, soon after Xi solidified a third term as secretary of China's Communist Party.
Critics questioned that visit by Scholz and a group of German CEOs, as well as the chancellery's approval of a Chinese shipping company's purchase of a stake in the port of Hamburg prior to the trip.
High-ranking members of Scholz's coalition government, including Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, have criticized China's foreign policy initiatives, joining other European countries in doing so.
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