Dutch telecoms group KPN is on the verge of signing a contract with China’s Huawei to roll out its 5G service, sources involved in the negotiations have told business broadcaster RTL Z.
The agreement has been reached and Huawei is ready to begin building the system this month, despite sensitivities about the involvement of a Chinese company, RTL Z said.
By making its preference for Huawei clear, KPN is stealing a march on the government’s plans to take an official position on the potential threat to the Dutch economy and security posed by China, the broadcaster said.
MPs have now asked junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer to comment. ‘I want to know what she thinks of KPN’s plan,’ D66 MP Kees Verhoeven said.
In the US Huawei has been accused of espionage on behalf of the Chinese authorities and the US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, told Trouw on Wednesday week that the company should be kept out of the Dutch market.
‘This is very, very important to us,’ Hoekstra is quoted as saying.
KPN told RTL Z it had not yet taken a definitive decision and refused to confirm or deny a preference for the Chinese firm.
‘We are aware of the news around Huawei and are following current affairs closely,’ the spokesman said. ‘Security is a top priority at KPN: we monitor our networks, equipment and infrastructure 24/7 and are constantly communicating with relevant stakeholders, including the government, on these types of issues.’
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