5G to Huawei? Romania: no way!

The Chinese group Huawei operates in Romania through Huawei Technologies SRL, a company entirely owned by Huawei Technologies Cooperatief UA from the Netherlands. The company’s annual revenue increased during the last three years, according to data from the Ministry of Finances: RON 1.27 billion (over EUR 280 million) in 2016 (with a profit exceeding RON 36 million, approximately EUR 8 million), RON 1.4 billion (over EUR 310 million) in 2017 (with a profit exceeding RON 20 million, approx. EUR 4.5 million), RON 1.9 billion (over EUR 420 million) in 2019 (with a profit exceeding RON 36 million, approx. EUR 8 million). The Chinese therefore increased their revenues by 50% in two years. Paradoxically (or maybe not), this lead also to a drop in the number of employees: from 1,447 in 2016 to only 1,018 in 2018. The profit was in the margin under EUR 10 million every year during the last three years.

But the success of the company seems threatened by trans-Atlantic strategic movements that didn’t seem predictable with the take-over of the Prime-Minister Chair by Victor Ponta (PSD) back in 2012. In 2013, for example, the Minister of Communications from that time, Dan Nica, was signing a “Memorandum of Agreement” with Huawei through which the two entities “agreed to enter a strategic cooperation relationship”.

In the same year 2013, the Ministry of Communications was organizing a tender for the RO-NET project development, for building a high-speed internet network in 783 poor rural localities in Romania. The tender, financed by the European Union, amounting to RON 380 million (over EUR 85 million) was won in 2014 by Telekom, supported by Huawei (as equipment provider). After more than five years, in October 2019, only two of the seven project lots have been performed, according to a notice of the Ministry of Communications.

But Huawei Technologies SRL never attends a public tender as equipment provider on its own. Also, there is no won tender in the public procurement portal of Romania. But the Chinese equipment still reach the public institutions. But through other providers, as shown by a contract concluded by the Permanent Electoral Authority at the end of 2019 for the pieces of equipment necessary for the elections from 2019 – 2020. As data obtained by Hotnews show, “we are talking about Huawei equipment in regards to the hardware procurement equipment necessary to implement the computer system for centralizing the elections results and the computer system for monitoring the presence to vote in 2019”.

The Huawei offensive has another component in Romania: an educational one. Therefore, in November 2018, the Technical University “Gh. Asachi” from Iași was announcing the launch of a training centre of the company called Huawei Authorized Information and Network Academy (HAINA). According to an article on the website of the Iasi Technical University, “Huawei donated, for the HAINA Training Center and the competition that started on Monday, November 5th, one of the laboratories of the Faculty of Automatics and Computers with an investment exceeding USD 50,000. The professors from the faculty were trained free of charge by the Huawei team to be able to perform the respective courses, and the representatives of the company visited the laboratory afterwards to see where the students will work”.

The current objective for the Chinese company is the 5G network from Romania. Currently, the tender for attributing the 5G contracts is in stand-by. And the Huawei name was invoked even by the president Klaus Iohannis in connection with this extremely important project.

The Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, and his American counterpart, Donald Trump, agree to ban Huawei. Source: ro.usembassy.gov

Asked by Europa Liberă (in December 2019) if he talked to PM Ludovic Orban about the Government adopting a Memorandum regarding the 5G network (agreed following a meeting at the White House between Iohannis and Donald Trump, in the summer of 2019), the President Iohannis answered (during an unofficial meeting with the journalists) that he told the Executive to wait regarding the tender and on adopting the 5G: „There is a single provider – Huawei, the others are relatively close, the ones from Europe and the United States. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Such tender will have such deep implications and the process is no longer reversible. If we have chosen a solution, it can no longer be reverted. Romania is going to develop this tender when ready”.

Huawei counter-attacked through advertising interviews in the economic media where it tried to empower the idea that the “exclusion of the Huawei equipment from the structure of the 5G network would generate additional EUR 2.6 billion costs for Romania, meaning nearly 1% of the PIB”, but without submitting clear arguments in this regard.


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