What just happened? With the US warning its allies against using Huawei’s tech in their 5G networks, the Chinese giant has signed a deal with Russian telecoms firm MTS to develop fifth-generation wireless networks in the country.
The companies signed the deal on the sidelines of a meeting between China and Russia presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, which took place just as the Chinese leader begun a three-day trip to Russia.
MTS is Russia’s largest mobile provider, holding a 31 percent market share and boasting 78.3 million subscribers. It also operates in the Ukraine, Armenia and Belarus. The firm said the agreement would see “the development of 5G technologies and the pilot launch of fifth-generation networks in 2019-2020.”
Guo Ping, one of Huawei’s chairman on rotation, said he was "very happy" with the agreement "in an area of strategic importance like 5G."
The US has warned allies including the UK and Germany that it could cut intelligence ties with the countries if they use Huawei’s 5G technology in their networks. The UK has indicated it could ask the Chinese firm to provide equipment for “non-core” infrastructure, though no final decision has been made.
With Huawei now on an “entity list” that prohibits US companies from doing business with it without a license, it’s not surprising to see the firm strengthen ties with Russia. Relations between the country and the US are strained following incidents in Crimea and Syria and allegations of US election interference, and it seems the trade war is pushing China closer to Russia. Xi called Putin his “close friend,” adding that they had met nearly 30 times over the past six years.
“We will strengthen our mutual support on key issues,” said Xi.
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