Germany has effectively not banned Huawei, the Chinese tech giant and the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world, from participating in the construction of 5G mobile networks in the country according to a draft proposal prepared by the government.
The draft is currently being consulted and debated and also states that those companies that and telecoms providers who participate in the process will be required to obtain “proof of trustworthiness” of the equipment manufacturers and suppliers from whom they purchase equipment.
According to a report published in the leading German business newspaper Handelsblatt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally intervened to prevent a ban on Huawie even though there were demands and suggestions that the Chinese company be prevented from participating in the bidding process because of concerns that its telecom equipment could have back doors that could allow Chinese spying agencies to use such backdoors to spy on Western countries. Huawei has repeatedly dispelled the allegations.
“We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert speaking about the proposals.
The German foreign ministry was not amused by the news because it has been pushing for better measures for protecting the national security of the country.
“Some in the foreign ministry are unhappy about it,” a European diplomatic source was quoted in the reports as saying.
The United States, which had banned Huawei in May this year, also criticized the ferman decision.
“German security testing is insufficient by itself,” said US deputy assistant secretary of state for cyber and international communications policy Rob Strayer. “[They] need to evaluate government influence and whether a rule of law system is in place.”
Earlier, there was a clear warning issued by the US to Germany about sharing of intelligence being hampered if Berlin allowed Huawei to bid and participate in the construction of the 5G network in the country.
Similar restrictions on the use of Huawei’s equipment and technology have also been introduced by Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.
Despite pressure from the US, a critical ally of many of the major European countries about Huawei, many of the EU member states have been reluctant to put a complete blanket ban on Huawei over concerns of retaliation from China despite being somewhat weary of the possible security threats to allow the participation of the Chinese giant.
The German government’s decision was unfortunate as it came just days after the European Commission warned of “state-backed” cyberattacks on 5G networks, said Jan Weidenfeld, head of European affairs at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a think tank in Berlin.
“Having said that, it has been clear for some time that Germany was not going to have an outright ban on Huawei,” he said. “How those criteria put forward by the German government will be interpreted by telecoms service providers is not so much technical as political,” he added.
(Adapted from SCMP.com)