Over recent months, the US has tried to steer Germany away from letting the Chinese tech giant participate in building the country’s next-generation 5G network infrastructure, citing security threats, and even threatened to downgrade intelligence sharing.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed excluding the Chinese manufacturer Huawei from the development of the country’s 5G mobile network, or any other company just because it is from a certain country while speaking at an annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin. Besides this, she also spoke against public discussions of sensitive issues in what could be seen as a rebuke to Washington’s recent warning to cut sharing intelligence info if Berlin allows the Chinese company Huawei to develop its 5G network.
“There are two things I don’t believe in. First, to discuss these very sensitive security questions publicly, and second, to exclude a company simply because it’s from a certain country”, she said, as cited by Bloomberg.
The chancellor insisted “We should give everyone a chance”, noting that “many countries” have used Huawei technology.
“The government has said our approach is not to simply exclude one company or one actor, but rather we have requirements of the competitors for this 5G technology”, she said.
However, she added that one should not be naive as laws in China differ from Europe’s, and a European agreement on the matter would be “desirable”. According to her, the German government has decided to formulate requirements for the technology, which is harder to police in new telecommunications legislation instead of a simple ban.
“And then we shall then talk to our partners, because they have their ideas as well”, she added.
Germany has recently launched a tender of 5G-ready airwaves to companies like Deutsche Telekom AG, Vodafone Group Plc and Telefonica SA as a part of the country’s efforts to become less dependent on older tech. Paradoxically, the European powerhouse turns out to be behind Qatar, Albania, and Moldova in terms of internet speeds, according to Bloomberg, and the modernisation of digital infrastructure was one of the goals Merkel’s government set.
In developing its much needed fifth-generation networks, Germany has faced US attempts to pressure it into banning Huawei from the process. They include the reported warning from US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell that Washington might curtail intelligence sharing if the country goes ahead with using Huawei networks.
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The US has scaled up its efforts against the manufacturer, pressing its allies to ban the company from building its next-generation wireless networks overseas. Washington claims that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment supplier, Huawei, has been stealing commercial information and spying on behalf of the Chinese government. The company has consistently denied the accusations, emphasising that it sees no reason for restrictions on its 5G infrastructure in any country.
However, some US allies have complied, as apart from the US, New Zealand and Australia have already banned Huawei from developing their 5G networks, citing security threats. But some, including the UK, India, and the United Arab Emirates have been reluctant to follow suit, the latest reports suggest. Berlin has up to now also fended off the pressure. At the same time, the country’s Federal Network Agency has published tougher security guidelines for telecom suppliers that require 5G providers to be “trustworthy” – including Huawei Technologies.