What happened: Malaysia will continue to use Huawei’s technology “as much as possible,” the country’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, said on Thursday during a visit to Tokyo. He said Washington might have grounds for its condemnation of the Chinese telecom giant, but that the company has a tremendous advantage over US technology, and that Malaysia’s research capabilities are far behind those of Huawei. He also said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been reporting everything that is happening in Malaysia and China for a long time.
Why it’s important: The prime minister’s speech has been described as the strongest rebuttal to the US blacklisting of Huawei among Asian leaders so far. Maxis, the leading communications operator in Malaysia, reached an agreement with Huawei to accelerate the country’s 5G mobile network build out. Telecom companies around the world, including those in the UK, Canada, and India, have publicized the difficulty they face navigating 5G network construction amid the US-led campaign against Huawei. Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have banned Huawei from their national 5G deployment. Huawei on Thursday launched a 5G lab in South Korea, the first country to roll out a 5G network.