Smartphone of the Huawei brand on display in a telephony department at Fnac. Valence, France, last year. The company plans to start making base stations in France in 2003. Photo: AFP / Nicolas Guyonnet / Hans Lucas

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, under pressure from Western governments suspicious it presents a security risk, is to open its first mobile network plant outside China in 2023 in eastern France, a director said Tuesday.

Work on the factory, which is to manufacture base stations, should begin this year, Huawei vice president and supervisory board member Catherine Chen told a video press conference in Strasbourg.

The site “could produce the first mobile station sometime in 2023,” she said, adding that the official decision to locate a manufacturing plant outside China represented “an historic date for Huawei.”

Last month, the company said it would invest at least 200 million euros ($240 million) and create 300 jobs to start with at the “Huawei European Wireless Factory” in Brumath, near Strasbourg.

Located near the border with Germany, the site aims to produce 1.0 billion euros of mainly 5G equipment per year for the European market.

The Chinese group is under pressure both from accusations by the US that its mobile network equipment is a spying risk, and charges that it has assisted efforts by Beijing to monitor Uighur Muslims.

Huawei has rejected accusations that Beijing could access its equipment to snoop on voice and data traffic, but an increasing number of countries including France have restricted if not outright banned Huawei equipment from their 5G mobile networks.