Sunday, July 3, 2022

China receives the new Dutch measures on telecommunication safety and integrity

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Editor
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

In the picture His Excellency Dr. Xu Hong, Ambassador of China to The Netherlands.

The Dutch government has recently issued an administrative order on Safety and Integrity of Telecommunications. Speaking to the press, China’s Ambassador to the Netherlands rejected speculations claiming that the order would negatively affect Chinese companies like Huawei.

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate has recently issued an administrative order concerning the Safety and Integrity of Telecommunications. The order stipulates that “critical parts” of the Dutch telecommunications network must be provided by so-called “trusted suppliers” – a limitation that would kick out of the game providers suspected of being engaged in espionage activities, either directly or through ties with third-party agencies. 

The implications of this order could be rather significant – especially in the framework of the debate around Huawei’s role in building the new 5G infrastructure in Europe and beyond. Over the last months, the United States have conducted a diplomatic campaign – led by State Department’s Robert Strayer – aimed at establishing strict regulations on the supply of parts used to build 5G infrastructure. While the US has officially stated that such regulations should not target any specific country, the campaign is widely seen as an effort to curb the role of the powerful Chinese multinational Huawei in the provision of 5G equipment.

In a press conference with Chinese and Dutch journalists, China’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr. Xu Hong, sought to explain how the new administrative order issued by the Dutch government would not target Chinese companies. In a thinly veiled reference to the US diplomatic campaign, the Ambassador accused those lobbying against Chinese companies of failing to provide “any solid evidence”, as well as of working against the spirit of law and fair competition.

Chinese ambassador with colleagues during the press meeting.

Those who fear China’s espionage – Dr. Xu Hong said – generally misread China’s National Intelligence Law. The law’s Article 7 stipulates that “any Chinese organization or citizen should support, assist and cooperate with state intelligence work in accordance with Chinese law” – the Ambassador clarified, stressing that the article should be read in the context of the entire Chinese legal system, rather than in standalone mode. Such laws, the Ambassador argued, are present in other countries too, including the Netherlands. 

To the contrary, he stressed, China is less invasive than other countries when it comes to collecting information overseas. “Unlike a few countries using long-arm jurisdiction, China is cautious on applying extraterritorial jurisdiction” – the Ambassador noted, highlighting how other countries, such as the United States and Australia, employ laws requiring companies “to provide the government or intelligence agencies with trans-border access to communications data”. “China opposes to such practice” – the Ambassador stressed, also underscoring his country’s opposition to “the use of cyber facilities for espionage” more at large. 

Seeking to reassure those who may still be worried, the Chinese Ambassador underscored the willingness expressed by Chinese companies such as Huawei to take preventive approaches in order to mitigate risks. Dr. Xu Hong praised the positive performance of Huawei during the strict scrutiny undergone recently, as well as its willingness to accept further third-party tests and supervisions with a “frank and open attitude”. 

In light of these observation, Ambassador Xu Hong voiced his country’s expectations on the implementation of the Dutch administrative order. “We hope that the Netherlands will make assessments on an objective and fair basis, and provide a fair, just and non-discriminative environment for the normal investment and business between enterprises”.

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