The US is terrified that Chinese outfits are filling their cheap and cheerful gadgets with lots of spying devices so that they can learn all about the technology that they make for US companies in their own country. Now the European Union's trade chief will seek the backing of EU states to investigate Chinese telecoms equipment makers Huawei and ZTE.
This is despite the fact that no one has complained about Huawei and ZTE and Huawei is actually working with UK security forces. The European Commission however says that its concerns are not about security, but the fact that China pays the outfit’s state subsidies to undercut European firms. European manufacturers Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks have refused to cooperate with the Commission. The Commission thinks this is because of fears that they could be shut out of the growing Chinese telecoms market in retaliation.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has the choice of letting the matter drop, or of pursuing an investigation at the Commission's own initiative. De Gucht is a big fan of taking a tough stance with China on trade issues and is trying to get support from other ministers.
An internal EU report last year recommended that the EU should take action against Chinese telecoms equipment makers as their increasing dominance of mobile networks made them a threat to security as well as to homegrown companies.