US and EU express concerns over Huawei’s potential role in Malaysia’s telecoms infrastructure

Malaysia’s assessment of its 5G deployment has raised concerns over national security as it may allow Huawei to bid for a role in its telecoms infrastructure, prompting warnings from the United States and European Union about threats to foreign investment and potential risks to the country’s infrastructure.

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Malaysia has completed an assessment of its 5G deployment that might allow China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to bid for a role in its telecoms infrastructure in the country.

The Financial Times (FT) has reported that European Union and the United States have warned Malaysia about threats to national security and foreign investment.
In April, according to the report citing letters obtained by FT, the EU and US envoys there wrote to the government of Malaysia after it decided to review its selection of Ericsson to build a state-owned 5G network for 11 billion ringgit ($2.5 billion).

Due to business reservations over pricing and transparency, as well as worries that a single government-run network would result in a nationalised monopoly, Malaysia’s 5G roll-out has seen numerous difficulties. Since the government previously disregarded security concerns raised by the United States, Huawei had long been considered the favourite to win the contract.

In one of the letters, US Ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters stated that ‘senior officials in Washington concur with my view that upending the current model would undermine the competitiveness of new industries, stall 5G growth in Malaysia, and harm Malaysia’s business-friendly image internationally.’

The claim is that ‘Malaysia’s infrastructure will put at risk for national security by allowing unreliable suppliers into any area of the network.’

A Reuters request for comment was not immediately answered by Huawei, the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the EU representative in Malaysia, or the Malaysian Ministry of Communications and Digital.