Portugal could become the latest country to effectively ban Huawei and other Chinese firms from participating in its 5G buildouts. As reported by , the government of Portugal this week recommended barring local carriers from sourcing 5G equipment from suppliers based outside of the European Union or from countries that aren’t part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED).
In a Portugal’s Higher Council for Cybersecurity shared on Thursday, the government said firms outside those jurisdictions pose a “high risk” to the security of the country’s wireless networks. The document didn’t call out Huawei specifically, but as China isn’t a member of NATO, the OCED or the EU, the company, alongside other Chinese suppliers like ZTE, would effectively be excluded from participating in Portugal’s 5G networks should the country’s cabinet approve the security council’s recommendation.
“Huawei has no prior knowledge of, and hasn’t been consulted about, this matter,” a Huawei spokesperson told the . “Over the past two decades, Huawei has worked with Portuguese carriers to build out wireless networks and provide quality services that connect millions of people. We will continue to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and serve Portuguese customers and partners who rely on our products and services.”
Banning Chinese companies from participating in its 5G networks would be an abrupt turnaround for Portugal, which has enjoyed close relations with the East Asian superpower for years. As the Financial Times notes, Portugal has been one of the biggest per capita recipients of Chinese investment in recent years. Altice Portugal, the country’s largest wireless carrier, signed a deal in 2018 to use Huawei equipment for part of its 5G rollout. If Portugal moves forward with a ban, it would join and a handful of other European countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, that have recently barred the company from participating in their 5G networks.