'We can't be held back by US jealousy,' says Ramaphosa on Huawei sanctions

05 July 2019 - 13:18
By Qaanitah Hunter
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has accused the US of being jealous of China's 5G technology which led to a trade war between two of the world's largest economies.

Addressing the opening of the 4IR conference in Midrand on Friday, Ramaphosa again reaffirmed SA's support for China.

"The US has been unable to imagine a better future that goes beyond 4 plus one G. Where they have been unable to imagine what 5G has to offer. They are clearly jealous that a Chinese company called Huawei has outstripped them and because they have been outstripped they must now punish that one company," he said.

Ramaphosa said the US was using Huawei as a pawn in their fight with China.

"We cannot afford to have our own economy be held back because there is this fight that the US is having and born out of their own jealousies," he said.

The Sunday Times reported last week that in his meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Ramaphosa pledged SA's support for Chinese mobile giant Huawei.

Ramaphosa's stand follows a plea by SA's four big telecommunications companies. The CEOs of Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Telkom wrote to Ramaphosa on June 7, asking for his help in dealing with the repercussions of an executive order signed by Trump against Huawei.

They said Trump's original blacklisting of Huawei would have had devastating consequences for the telecommunications sector and would jeopardise a R100bn investment in infrastructure.

Shameel Joosub of Vodacom, Sipho Maseko of Telkom, Godfrey Motsa of MTN and Cell C's Douglas Stevenson are said to have asked for Ramaphosa's intervention, telling him the blacklisting would impede efforts to roll out a 5G network and affect SA's existing 3G and 4G networks.

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The US has led a campaign to discredit Huawei and to curtail its influence in telecommunications. It said China would use 5G to spy on people and governments.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is under house arrest in Canada, fighting extradition to the US. The US wants to charge her with breaking US sanctions on Iran.

Huawei is the world's largest supplier of mobile phones and makes equipment that is integral to the operations of all four SA mobile phone companies.

At a later meeting, Xi and Trump agreed to resume trade talks, with the US president appearing to backtrack on a ban on the sale of US equipment to Huawei.

Ramaphosa told the conference on Friday that trade wars should not spill over to disable other countries in the world.

"We want 5G and we know were we can get 5G," he said in a show of support for Huawei.


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