Chinese telecoms giant Huawei plans to invest heavily in research in Switzerland, it says.
This would create about 1,000 new research jobs, Huawei deputy director for Switzerland Felix Kramer told Swiss television SRFexternal link on Thursday. He said discussions were under way and there was no timetable yet.
Kramer said the focus would be on skills where Switzerland is a leader and which are relevant for Huawei in the medium term. “We are particularly looking for this expertise in the fields of physics, IT, nanotechnology, science of materials and other sciences,” he told SRF, adding that the firm also envisages “forms of interdisciplinary cooperation”.
As well as being neutral and stable, Switzerland’s technical institutes make it an advantageous research base, according to Kramer. Huawei is also planning to invest in other European countries, also “using the country’s strengths”. For example, it plans to invest in an industrial design institute in Paris and a centre of expertise in London for global finance.
Huawei is currently under international pressure, especially since the Trump administration last week put the company on a list banning it from acquiring technology from US firms without government approval.
Several American firms including Google have reacted by cutting some links with Huawei, the world’s second biggest smartphone maker. There are also fears in some countries that partnerships with Huawei for the development of 5G, the next generation of mobile technology, could open the door to spying by the Chinese government. There have been reports that Washington has been lobbying Bern to drop Huawei.
Unlike some operators elsewhere, Swiss telecoms operators do not plan to cut any ties with Huawei, they told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA on Thursday. Its smartphones remain in the catalogues of the three main Swiss operators, Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt, who say they are nevertheless watching the situation closely. Sunrise is also developing its 5G network with technology pioneered by Huawei.
The business newspaper Handelszeitung meanwhile external linkreportsexternal link that the Swiss telecoms industry has launched an idea that could give Switzerland a mediating role in the US-China dispute.
This would involve setting up in Switzerland an international centre for cybersecurity in telecom infrastructure, which would test the security of components and serve as a reference in disputes. "This idea is attractive in the current environment," Peter Grütter, president of the Swiss Telecommunications Association Asut, told the paper.