US Pushing UAE to dump Chinese Huawei

TEHRAN, Jun. 11 (MNA) – The Biden administration is pressing the United Arab Emirates to remove Huawei Technologies Co. from its telecommunications network.

The Biden administration is pressing the United Arab Emirates to remove Huawei Technologies Co. from its telecommunications network and take other steps to distance itself from China, raising the risk that the country’s purchase of some $23 billion in F-35 jets and drones may be at stake, people familiar with the matter said, Bloomberg reported.

The US is asking the UAE to remove Huawei equipment from its networks within the next four years -- before it’s scheduled to get the F-35 in 2026 or 2027 -- but Emirati officials have countered that they’d need longer plus an alternative that’s as affordable, according to three of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations. The conversations have turned in part on the feasibility of obtaining alternative equipment from Samsung Electronics Co., Ericsson AB, or Nokia Oyj.

The dispute over the UAE’s use of Huawei has simmered since the Trump administration when US officials unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Emirates -- a crucial ally in a turbulent region -- to reverse a push for a stronger military and economic ties with China, which is seeking increased influence in the Middle East.

Several people familiar with the situation said Trump administration officials had initially persuaded Emirati officials to replace Huawei and preempt any Chinese plans for bases in the region. But the Emiratis insisted on more ambiguous language in a deal that was concluded in the waning hours of Donald Trump’s presidency.

President Joe Biden announced a review of the F-35 sale when he came into office. The sale is proceeding for now, but people familiar with the matter said the differences over what the US and UAE agreed to -- on Huawei and other concerns about Chinese technology -- are sufficiently serious that there’s still no guarantee the Emirates will ever get the advanced fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The situation provides an early indication that the Biden administration will pursue the Trump team’s effort to press allies to ban Huawei, China’s biggest tech firm, from new 5G systems on the argument that the equipment could be used to spy for the Chinese government. China has denied that’s a possibility.

US officials declined to say publicly if they had demanded that UAE remove and replace Huawei.

A person familiar with the UAE negotiating position, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, said the country understands the importance of protecting sensitive technology. The person said the talks have made good progress and there’s plenty of time to work out the technical details.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “we share the view that China-UAE cooperation serves the common interests of both sides and benefits the two peoples” and that “it has nothing to do with and does not tolerate interference by third parties.”


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