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Thur. 8:57 a.m.: Portugal resists US appeal to bar Huawei from 5G network

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal won’t exclude Chinese companies from supplying technology for the country’s next-generation 5G wireless network, senior Portuguese officials told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today.

Portugal is the latest European Union country to resist U.S. efforts to persuade allies they should shun Huawei’s bids to provide the hardware that operators will use for the new ultra-fast 5G networks.

The Chinese government “won’t hesitate” to use Huawei as a back door to sensitive data, Pompeo warned at a news conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva.

He said each country has to make its own decision about such issues.

“But we have tried for these past couple of years to make clear to our friends all around the world of the attendant risks,” Pompeo said.

Santos Silva said bids from 5G operators will be assessed in the light of strict Portuguese and EU regulations. Market-leading wireless carrier Altice Portugal partnered last year with Huawei to develop 5G technology as it prepares to launch service in 2020.

Other EU countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, have also resisted Washington’s entreaties to block Huawei, though they have yet to make a final decision. Hungary announced last month that Huawei will take part in the construction of its 5G wireless network.

Those decisions have contributed to at times strained relations between Washington and the EU.

Santos Silva said that all foreign investment is welcome.

Portugal is one of the EU’s, and NATO’s, smaller members and keen to attract investors. Chinese companies already own significant assets in the energy, banking and insurance sectors in Portugal.

Portugal has challenged critics of its China policy to compete with Beijing on Portuguese investments.

Santos Silva noted that a public tender is to open soon for a container terminal at the country’s biggest Atlantic deepwater port, in Sines. China is expected to table a strong bid, but Santos Silva said he hoped U.S. companies would compete, too.

Pompeo also met privately with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

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