Digital Brief: China Edition

The Digital Brief is Euractiv's weekly tech newsletter.

Welcome to EURACTIV’s Digital Brief, your weekly update on all things digital in the EU. You can subscribe to the newsletter here


The Commission remains committed to the deployment of C-ITS...”

EU Source to EURACTIV, Wednesday 18 September.


C-ITS. Remember the Commission’s controversial plans on Cooperative Intelligence Transport Systems? Well, talk on it has reignited. And it transpires that the issue was intricately caught up in the ongoing trade dispute between China and the US – with American firms allegedly having lobbied for the plans and Chinese firms making a concerted effort against the measures.

The original debate centred around Commission measures for how vehicles should be connected in the future, either by using 5G or WiFi networks. The proposal had been drafted as a Delegated Act, a fast-track procedure that legislates on the basis of input from EU countries.  Member states blocked the procedure just before the summer break – to the ire of the Commission’s DG Move, who had been forcibly advocating for standards to be established that would see WiFi networks prioritised. This caused a standoff with DG Connect, who had backed the other side of the argument – supporting C-V2X technologies, based on 5G networks.

An industry specialist told EURACTIV on Thursday (19 September), that the US had been conducting a heavy lobbying campaign on the Commission’s DG Move to push through the plans.

I’ve been delving deeper into the issue and C-V2X technologies more generally by visiting a connected car plant in Wuxi, China, where individuals familiar with the matter are concerned that DG Move’s intentions to establish a WiFi preference for connected cars will resurface. They have been adopting a cautious approach in this regard – the telecommunications giant Huawei stood firmly against the Commission’s plans when they were first introduced – along with a host of many other telecommunications companies.

Their concerns seem to be well-founded. Despite a change in the composition of Commissioners, an EU source informed EURACTIV on Wednesday that “the Commission remains committed to the deployment of C-ITS.” Read more here.

HUAWEI POLICE COLLABORATION. During my time in China, I’ve taken the opportunity to hold up the magnifying glass to Huawei. In Wuxi, I caught up with the head of C-V2X marketing at Huawei, Xu Changquing, who gave me an insight into Huawei’s efforts in the C-V2X arena. One of the most interesting aspects of connected car technology is its ability to scrape data from traffic lights in the form of recording the timings of light changes.

However, for a vehicle to record this data, it needs permission from police authorities. The local agencies, in Wuxi at least, have given Huawei permission to use this data. But, would the police expect Huawei to share the data, the other way around? Xu told me ‘no’.

OLIVE BRANCH. The Chinese firm has had a busy week. While in town, I visited the company’s annual conference in Shanghai, where they presented a new strategic agenda, announcing that they would substantially increase investments into computing products, establishing a $1.5bn fund to recruit software developers as well as sharing the secrets to its 5G technology with Western partners. Speaking to EURACTIV on the sidelines of the conference, an industry insider said the move is a direct response to the company facing restrictions on the sale of its products to firms in the US and worldwide.

MATE 30. The eagerly anticipated launch of the company’s newest smartphone, the ‘Mate 30’, has been tarred by the fact that though the device uses the open-source Android operating system, due to recent US restrictions, it is unlikely to be able to use any Google apps or services. What does this mean in practice? No Google Play, no YouTube, no Gmail or Google Maps – which could potentially affect a host of other Android services. Huawei have been very tight-lipped about their way around this. Stay tuned.

SLOVAKIA. The EU needs to show “concrete evidence” that the Chinese tech giant Huawei is a security threat, China’s Ambassador to Slovakia, Lin Lin, told EURACTIV Slovakia in an interview.

GAIA-X. Remember Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier’s recent call for a European cloud infrastructure service? Well, the news has been received well in China. I caught up with Edward Deng, president of Huawei Cloud Global Market this week, who welcomed the plans, and, unsurprisingly, also hit out at US involvement in Europe’s cloud market, referring to their approach in Europe as “dominant.”

DIGITAL CURRENCY. According to officials from the People’s Bank of China, the nation is on the verge of introducing its own digital currency. Wang Xin, director of the PBOC’s research bureau, said in July that “its launch is close.” Currently, little is known about the concrete plans, other than it could replace physical cash for consumer payments and that it is widely tipped to have been a direct response to Facebook’s plans to introduce their own digital currency, Libra.

UIGHUR DETAINMENT. In terms of human rights, there is no greater issue in China. The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), hit out on Monday against the Chinese government’s detainment of Uighur children in “child welfare” institutions in Xinjiang. This follows a period of protracted detainment of members of the minority Muslim Uighur community in cultural education centres. In terms of a tech angle, Apple recently announced that as part of the recent iPhone hacking campaign, Uighur Muslims had been targetted specifically.


On my radar.

Staying with the China theme, next Friday it’s the EU-Asia Connectivity Forum. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to make an appearance, as well as a host of other EU leaders.


What else I’m reading this week:


Upcoming Events

Propelled by the move to cashless societies and fast-growing e-commerce, the payments industry is expected to grow from €715 billion in 2010 to €2.1 trillion in 2027. EURACTIV invites you to a high-level forum on September 25 to discuss the future of payments and how to ensure a competitive and innovative payments market in the EU.

Subscribe to our newsletters