BUCHAREST, April 15 (Reuters) - Romania's centrist government on Thursday approved a United States-backed bill that effectively bars China and Huawei (HWT.UL) from taking part in development of its 5G network, a member of the IT&C and National Security Committee told Reuters.
Europe has emerged as a battleground in the technology 'Cold War' playing out between China and Washington and Huawei's European competitors, Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE), could become a supplier duopoly should the Chinese company be shut out.
"The government just approved this bill of paramount importance for Romania, sealing a 2019 memorandum signed in Washington, meaning that China and Huawei are ruled out from any would-be partnership on 5G with the Romanian state," Pavel Popescu said.
Under the memorandum, the two governments said in August 2019 that: "as part of risk-based security approach, careful and complete evaluation of 5G vendors is necessary."
Romania was a staunch Washington ally even before it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. Washington sees Huawei as an arm of China's Communist Party's global surveillance machinery.
Huawei, which is playing a leading role as the telecoms world gears up for next generation wireless technology, has repeatedly denied spying for the Chinese state.
The bill approved on Thursday reflects the U.S. memorandum, and Romania's Supreme Defence Council stance. Popescu said: "National security is a key goal, and protecting Romania's future generations' personal data is crucial."
It says a vendor's evaluation should say whether a company is subject to control by a foreign government, has a transparent ownership structure, and is subject to a legal regime that enforces transparent corporate practices.
Popescu said the bill, which could be rubber-stamped in parliament in the next weeks, is a prerequiste to launching 5G tenders in the Black Sea state in second half of the year.
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