ASEAN has to ensure a level playing field to develop a 5G ecosystem for its digital transformation, the Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Dr Aladdin D. Rillo said at a Huawei cybersecurity office in Brussels. “The world is very inter-connected and integrated. We have to help each other and work together towards our common goals. Any distraction from that will not be beneficial to any player,” Rillo said. These comments come amidst the United States’ sustained campaign to prevent allies from using the company’s technology in their 5G networks. The US has accused the telecom giant of racketeering and stealing trade secrets. Huawei publicised the comments in a press release.

American companies have followed their government’s lead: Google warned Huawei smartphone users against installing its apps on the devices; chip makers like Intel, Broadcom and Qualcomm have also suspended shipments to the company. However, US’ pressure campaign at large has had a limited impact in Asia. India has not ruled out Huawei as Airtel and Vodafone partnered with the company for its 5G trials. Mukesh Ambani, on the other hand, bragged to American President Trump at a business round table that Jio’s network doesn’t have a “single Chinese component”. As of October 2019, 80% of Japanese companies still did business with Huawei; and it no country in ASEAN has yet ruled the company out of its 5G networks. In May 2019, Malaysia’s then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said that the company can “spy as much as they like” and the country would still do business with them.