Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- Controversial Chinese mobile phone manufacturers are to set up a major factory in France. It is the first of its kind outside China, following an announcement by President Liang Hua. The company is to invest around €200 million.

The factory, which will manufacture base stations for mobile phones, will employ some 500 people.

President Liang Hua said that the “site will supply the whole of Europe not just France alone.” He added that the company is worldwide and needs a global industrial footprint.

The equipment produced will be compatible with the new 5th Generation (5G) telephonic norm. However they will not be installed in the more sensitive parts of the network.

Huawei is the subject of an extremely hostile campaign by the United States who claim that they spy for the Chinese government or could do so. The company denies this.

5G is greatly superior in performance than 4G and will allow the linking of cars and new applications in health, industry and the internet of things.

In Germany the government is divided as to whether to permit Huawei equipment to be installed and Chancellor Merkel has avoided an awkward decision by saying she will wait until the next EU summit to decide.

The new Johnson government in the UK has decided to allow Huawei to play a part in setting up the 5G network but limited to non-sensitive sites and projects.

The French government is due to make a decision soon. The Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire, has said that in principle he favors a European manufacturer, meaning Nokia or Ericsson. But it is hard to imagine that Huawei would have committed to a site in France unless they had been assured that France would use their equipment.

The European Commissioner Thierry Breton, himself a Frenchman, has commented that certain manufacturers are a security risk.

President Hua Ling said that the opening of the factory was not “a charm offensive” but at the same time he said that the French government was aware of the proposed factory, which was part of Huawei’s strategy of geographical diversification.

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