Germany does not plan to exclude Huawei from its 5G auctions, Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated on Tuesday, further dampening US hopes that the country would bend to pressure to boycott the Chinese business.
Ms Merkel said it was the German government’s approach to “not simply exclude one actor, but rather we have requirements of the competitors for this 5G technology”.
Her comments echoed earlier suggestions from Germany’s economy minister, Peter Altmaier, that it did not want to ban Huawei from the 5G auction, which launched on Tuesday.
Mr Altmaier has previously said that there were no concerns about specific companies, but that each product “must be secure if it is going to be used in Germany”.
The US has been ramping up pressure on its allies in recent months to also drop the Chinese equipment maker over what it says are espionage fears.
It argues that, because Huawei is a Chinese company, it is obliged to help China’s intelligence operations – a claim that Huawei denies.
The US last week reportedly sent a letter to Mr Altmaier warning that, if Huawei won the 5G contract in Germany, the US would scale back the amount of intelligence it shared with the country.
Nato has also threatened Germany with cutting defence communications should Huawei be involved in building Germany’s 5G network.
US general Curtis Scaparrotti, who serves as Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, told the House Armed Services Committee last week that he was “concerned about [Germany’s] telecommunications backbone being compromised in the sense that, particularly with 5G, the bandwidth capability and ability to pull data is incredible”. He said if it was “also inside of their defence communications, then we’re not gonna communicate with them”.
Both Australia and New Zealand have already barred telecoms equipment from Huawei, citing security concerns, although other major US allies, including the UK, are unconvinced whether a full ban is necessary.
The British government is thought to be currently drawing up new security rules for telecoms operators, which would limit the number of networks Huawei equipment could be used in.
The Daily Telegraph earlier this month said officials were readying to recommend a 50pc cap on the amount of equipment that could come from the Chinese giant. The review is expected to be completed later in the spring.
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