Telecommunications giant Huawei, accused by the U.S. of spying for the Chinese government, announced on Thursday the company plans to build its first European manufacturing plant in France.
“This site will supply the entire European market, not just France’s,” said Huawei chariman Liang Hua, adding that the factory would create 500 jobs. It was not immediately clear where in the country the factory would be built.
Huawei has been attempting to acquire a role in building Europe’s 5G network infrastructure. 5G networks will underlie a huge advance in the speed and capacity of telecommunications, and Huawei is currently a world leader in the manufacture of 5G technology. The U.S. worries the Chinese government will have direct access to Huawei’s networks, allowing China to access massive amounts of data from around the world.
“When you allow the information of your citizens or the national security information of your citizens to transit a network that the Chinese Communist Party has a legal mandate to obtain, it creates risk,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in late January. “While we still have to be enormously vigilant about terror, there are still challenges all across the world, the Chinese Communist Party presents the central threat of our times.”
Germany has been debating whether to allow Huawei to build its own network infrastructure. Chancellor Angela Merkel in January asked members of her parliamentary coalition to wait on making a decision until after a March summit of the European Union.