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Thailand launches Huawei 5G test bed, even as U.S. urges allies to bar Chinese gear

Reuters  |  BANGKOK 

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat

(Reuters) - launched a 5G test bed on Friday, even as the urges its allies to bar the Chinese from building next-generation

Huawei, the world's top of and second-biggest maker of smartphones, has been facing mounting international scrutiny amid fears could use its equipment for espionage, a concern the company says is unfounded.

The 5G test bed in Thailand, the United States' oldest ally in Asia, will be Huawei's first in Southeast

Thailand's cooperation with Huawei on the test bed does not mean it is not concerned about security issues, of Digital Economy told at the launch.

"We keep a close watch on the allegations worldwide. However, this 5G test bed project is a testing period for the country," Pichet added. "We can make observations which will be useful to either confirm or disconfirm the allegations."

Pichet was speaking at the in Chonburi, the heart of the government's $45 billion economic project - the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)- about 90 km (55.92 miles) southeast of

Vendors like Nokia, and Thai telecoms operators have also set up 5G labs at the site.

Huawei, which gets nearly half of its revenue from outside China, says it has secured more than 30 commercial 5G contracts globally. But it has not yet signed a 5G contract in

Huawei is in talks with telecoms operators, such as and TRUE, to secure local partnerships ahead of a national rollout scheduled for December 2020, industry sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Asked if the had reached out to about barring Huawei, Pichet said: "I have no knowledge of that".


Huawei has repeatedly denied U.S.-led allegations that its equipment could be used by for spying.

"There is no evidence indicating that our equipment posed a security threat, no matter in Thailand or globally," Huawei Thailand said in a statement to on Friday.

Cybersecurity has been made into a "political and maybe ideological issue" which is "not fair" for a company, Huawei added in its statement.

Earlier, a in said the "advocates for secure and supply chains that are free from suppliers subject to foreign government control or undue influence that poses risks of unauthorized access and malicious cyber activity".

"We routinely urge allies and partners to consider such risks and exercise similar vigilance in ensuring the security of their own and supply chains, including when awarding contracts," the added.

Ties between the United States and Thailand have cooled since the took power in a 2014 coup. Relations between Bangkok and Beijing, on the other hand have, warmed in recent years as evident from a pick up in defense trade and Chinese investment in the Southeast Asian nation.


Huawei has previously set up a cloud data centre worth $22.5 million in Thailand's EEC, a centerpiece of the government's policy to boost growth in the country that has struggled to attract foreign investors besides the Chinese.

Alibaba, Tencent, and have also pledged to invest in the EEC.

This stands in stark contrast to the intense scrutiny being faced by Chinese investment in other parts of the world amid a crippling Sino-U.S. trade war.

reported exclusively on Jan. 30 that the was considering proposals that would ban Huawei from 5G networks, but that work was at an early stage.

For Thailand, security concerns over Huawei's equipment come second to its competitive pricing versus that by U.S. firms, Pranontha Titavunno, of the Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industries, said.

"We don't think about it because their products are decent and affordable," Pranontha told Reuters.

"There are always surveillance concerns when it comes to ... But Thailand doesn't really have anything exciting that might be of interest to "

(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 15:31 IST