Italy has no plans to exclude Chinese firms from 5G network, minister says

FILE PHOTO: The EU flag and a smartphone with the Huawei and 5G network logo are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration taken January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

ROME (Reuters) - Italy has no plan to stop Chinese telecom firms, including Huawei, playing a role in the development of the country’s future 5G network, a junior government minister told Reuters on Thursday.

The United States has lobbied Italy and other European allies to avoid using Huawei equipment in their next generation networks and to closely scrutinize rival ZTE, saying the companies could pose a security risk. Huawei and ZTE have strongly denied the accusations.

The Trump administration has also threatened to withhold intelligence from governments that allow, Huawei, the world’s top provider of telecoms equipment, into their networks, but there is little clarity on whether Washington will follow through on the threat.

“Italy must first of all protect its national interests,” Industry Undersecretary Mirella Liuzzi said.

She added that the government should tackle the issue of national safety “without being naive, with the necessary precautions but without keeping anyone out on the door step”.

The Italian parliament last year passed legislation giving the government special protective and vetting powers over 5G supply deals between domestic firms and non-EU providers, given the sector is considered strategically important.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Giles Elgood