Huawei’s current CEO Guo Ping suggested a trade-off to European regulators in an interview with the Financial Times: Treat us like a local firm and we will invest more.
“If we can be given a fair opportunity to participate like other European companies, that would be an encouragement to us,” said Guo, one of the company’s three rotating CEOs.
The Chinese vendor now employs nearly 10,000 people across the continent, with 1,200 in R&D. Last week, Huawei announced its latest investment – the opening of its European Research Institute in Leuven, Belgium.
This kind of investment enables the vendor to claim it does not see Europe just as a sales opportunity but is pursuing a deeper relationship.
“We are here not to see Europe as a market,” said Mr Guo. “We want to do R&D here. We want to do our procurement here. We want to become a European company.”
Huawei has found Europe significantly more receptive than the US, where it has been effectively blocked, at least as a network vendor.
However, China-Europe relations in telecoms have not always been so smooth. The European Commission considered an inquiry into the import of Chinese-manufactured network gear into Europe but decided not to pursue an anti-dumping action. The commission reserved the right to probe an anti-subsidy claim but choose not to go ahead with it, subject to negotiations with the Chinese government.
The incident clearly left some scars on the Chinese side. “The process was very uncomfortable; it made us feel very uncertain,” said Guo.