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Romanian lawmakers have passed a bill prohibiting China and Huawei from participating in 5G networks.

BUCHAREST, Romania, 15 April (Reuters) – Romania’s centrist government adopted a law backed by the United States on Thursday, effectively excluding China and Huawei (HWT.UL) from participating in the building of the country’s 5G network, according to a member of the IT&C and National Security Committee.

Europe has emerged as a battleground in the technological ‘Cold War’ between China and the United States, and Huawei’s European rivals, Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE) might form a supplier duopoly if the Chinese firm is barred.

“The cabinet just adopted this crucial bill for Romania, putting an end to a 2019 pact agreed in Washington, thereby ruling China and Huawei out of any potential 5G partnership with Romania,” Pavel Popescu said.

In August 2019, the two countries started in the memorandum that a “careful and comprehensive review of 5G providers is important as part of a risk-based security approach.”

Before joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004, Romania was a loyal Washington friend. The United States sees Huawei as an extension of China’s Communist Party’s global surveillance apparatus.

Huawei, a key player in the telecoms industry as it prepares for next-generation wireless technology, has denied spying for the Chinese government on numerous occasions.

The bill passed on Thursday reflects the US memorandum and the position of Romania’s Supreme Defense Council. “National security is a top priority,” Popescu added, “and safeguarding the personal data of Romania’s future generations is critical.”

It states that a vendor’s assessment should include whether a company is under foreign government control, has a clear ownership structure, and is subject to a legal environment that enforces transparent corporate practices.

Popescu stated that the bill, which is expected to be passed by parliament in the next weeks, is a prerequisite for the Black Sea state to launch 5G bids in the second half of the year.