Germany resists US pressure on Huawei
The US has threatened to stop sharing critical intelligence if Germany allows the Chinese tech giant Huawei to build 5G infrastructure.
“We will create our own standards independently,” Merkel said. The veteran chancellor said Germany would “consult with the US” as well as other European nations. Security representsed an “extremely serious concern” in advancing communications technology, she said.
But banning Huawei from 5G developments could harm the German economy, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said.
Seehofer called for talks with China and a technical solution to concerns about security.
“I fear [excluding Huawei] that would leave a mark on economic development,” the Bavarian minister said.
Seehofer welcomed Merkel’s cautious response to US demands to ditch Huawei, praising her for reacting with a “certain serenity”.
The Trump administration wants other western nations to block the Chinese telecoms equipment giant. Germany opens 5G bidding on March 19.
Deutsche Telekom and the UK’s Vodafone have been looking at the bidding process. Germany aims to have 5G reach 98 per cent of homes by 2023.
The US attempt to strong arm Germany into ditching the controversial Chinese tech giant comes as bilateral ties between Washington and Berlin are at their most strained than at any time since the Second World War.
Donald Trump’s trade war, his complaints about the German defence budget, withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and repeated insistence that Germany stops work on its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia have all strained ties.
The Germany’s Federal Telecoms Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) said 5G operators must be “trustworthy suppliers” that provide for “secrecy of telecommunications and for data protection.” Critical components needed certification by the authorities and would be subject to “regular and ongoing security tests”, the agency said.
Huawei has amassed a significant European market share with its competitive pricing.
The hawkish US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, recently warned the German finance minister Peter Altmaier, that Washington could not sustain its level of intelligence sharing if Huawei was allowed to build German 5G infrastructure.
A US defence spending bill last summer bans government agencies from buying Huawei equipment and making purchases from four other Chinese firms from August. The legislation also blocks government agencies from doing business with companies that use Chinese telecoms products after August 2020.
Australia blocked Huawei from its 5G projects last August after a request from the US.
Germany’s economy and society is highly tech-dependent. Picture credit: PXHere