France will soon make proposals to reinforce the security of mobile telephone networks, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday after the US stepped up pressure on Europe to block China's Huawei from building 5G networks.
"The role of the nation is to protect the economic interests of the country, 5G could lead us to taking strong decisions in this area," Le Maire said on the France 2 television network.
Several Western nations have already barred China's Huawei from participating in contracts to deploy fifth-generation, or 5G, networks, citing fears Beijing could gain access to sensitive communications and critical infrastructure.
The United States, which considers the matter urgent as European Union countries prepare to roll out 5G networks that will bring near-instantaneous connectivity, vast data capacity and futuristic technologies, said Tuesday it would meet with its European partners this week to warn against Chinese suppliers.
"Going with an untrusted supplier like Huawei or ZTE will have all sorts of ramifications for your national security," a US official speaking on condition of anonymity said Tuesday.
Huawei strenuously denies its equipment could be used for espionage.
Network operators seeking to quickly deploy the new networks are in a bind as Huawei's 5G equipment is seen as being considerably more advanced than that of competitors such Sweden's Ericsson or Finland's Nokia.
A government proposal to require regulatory approval for telecommunication network gear didn't find favour among French senators, but Le Maire said the new proposal could be done when the legislation is considered by the entire chamber later this week.