European Commission denies link between probe delay and Chinese TD-LTE tender

The European Commission swatted away a report that suggested it is delaying an investigation into the business practices of Chinese vendorsHuawei and ZTE until after European vendors have secured satisfactory slices of a massive TD-LTE tender recently launched by China Mobile.

The Financial Times reported that, according to unnamed sources, Karel De Gucht, the European Union's trade commissioner, would prefer to bury the case if European companies are awarded a healthy share of the tender China Mobile launched in June. European vendors such as Ericsson and NSN have made no secret of their hopes to win larger shares of the current Chinese tender, and expressed their dismay over EU threats to launch a probe into Chinese rivals, fearing they would be shut out of the lucrative Chinese market as a result.

The FT report also noted that the telecoms case has now moved to the forefront at the EU after Brussels and Beijing recently reached a truce on solar panels exported by Chinese companies.

However, the European Commission told FierceWireless:Europe in an emailed statement that Commissioner De Gucht "has repeated his position," and reiterated its statement from May that "the European Commission is ready to launch an anti-dumping and an anti-subsidy investigation concerning imports of mobile telecoms networks from China, but seeks a negotiated solution in this case."

The Commission added that it has not yet been in negotiations on the telecoms case with the Chinese authorities. "Consequently, a link between the tender mentioned in the press articles and the solution to the telecoms case has never been discussed with the Chinese authorities," the EC said.

Unnamed Chinese sources in Brussels told China Daily that although it is clear Brussels is keen to gain more market access in China, "I don't think the suspension of the investigation is related to obtaining 4G market (contracts)," the source said. "If De Gucht linked the two things, it is ridiculous."

According to previous reports, China Mobile posted an online tender on June 21 saying it plans to buy equipment for 207,000 base stations in 31 provinces across China, although no details on the value of the contract were provided. The results are currently expected in September.

Meanwhile in a separate story, the Financial Times also reported that Huawei plans to establish a London-based office to manage its international finances, in a further sign of the Chinese vendor's commitment to the European market.

For more:
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)
- see this China Daily article
- see this separate Financial Times article (sub. req.)
- see this third article from the Financial Times (sub. req.)
- see this EU release from May

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