Huawei Signs Deal with MTS to Develop Russia’s 5G Network

Chinese tech giant Huawei has signed a deal with Russian telecoms company MTS to develop a 5G network in the country over the next year, BBC News reported.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow. It will see “the development of 5G technologies and the pilot launch of fifth-generation networks in 2019-2020,” MTS said in a statement on Wednesday.

Quoted in the statement, Huawei’s Guo Ping, one of the company’s chairmen on rotation, said he was “very happy” with the agreement “in an area of strategic importance like 5G.”

At a Moscow meeting between Putin and Xi, the Chinese leader called his Russian counterpart his “close friend”, noting that they had met nearly 30 times over the past six years. The trip is Xi’s eighth to Russia since 2012.

“We will strengthen our mutual support on key issues,” Xi said, sitting next to Putin in the Kremlin.

Moscow’s ties with the U.S. have declined sharply over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Kremlin meddling in the US 2016 presidential elections, while China is engaged in a spiraling trade war with Washington.

“Protectionism and unilateral approaches are on the rise, and a policy of force and hegemony is increasingly taking hold,” Xi said.

Washington has encouraged allies to block Huawei – the world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment – from their 5G networks, saying the Chinese government could use its products for surveillance. Efforts by Washington to block the Chinese company escalated last month when the Trump administration put it on its “entity list”, which prohibits U.S. entities from trading with the firm unless they have a license.