Global Backlash Could Force Germany to Consider Banning Huawei
Germany is reportedly looking into imposing strict security requirements which would effectively block Huawei from its next-generation phone network.
Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei has been on the receiving end of international scrutiny for weeks, with many countries questioning the security of its products. The company has been accused of stealing trade secrets in the US on multiple occasions.
Several countries have started taking action against Huawei as early as November 2018, when New Zealand banned the company from supplying a local mobile network with 5G equipment. The US and Australia have both decided to ban Huawei from working on their next-generation mobile networks.
The latest in line to join the movement is Germany, as the country is thought to be considering introducing strict security requirements that would effectively close the door on Huawei’s involvement with their 5G mobile network. Last week, Handelsblatt, a German daily newspaper, reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration is actively considering ways to stop the company’s involvement with such networks.
Germany’s interior ministry had previously said it opposes banning any suppliers from its 5G network, but is currently considering ways to exclude Huawei, BBC reported. Introducing stricter regulation and increased government oversight could block the company from working on Germany’s vast 5G mobile network.
The German Federal Foreign Office held an internal meeting about Huawei on January 17, CNBC reported, but no formal decisions have been made. The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy told CNBC that the security of the future 5G network was of “high relevance” to the Federal Government.
The country has one of Europe’s largest telecom markets with massive penetration in the broadband and mobile sectors. And while losing such a large portion of the European market wouldn’t be a major financial blow for Huawei, the company is still reluctant to back down.
Huawei issued a statement on the issue, saying that it sees “no rational reason why it should be excluded from building 5G infrastructure in Germany, or indeed in any country in the world.”
The intense media and government pressure on Huawei has prompted its reclusive founder, Ren Zhengfei, to conduct a series of interviews to foreign media to address the issue. Mr. Ren said that no law in China requires any company to install mandatory backdoors, adding that his company would never answer to such requests.
However, Mr. Ren’s eldest daughter, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, has been arrested in Canada and is currently awaiting extradition to the US. She was accused of breaking US sanctions on Iran and of conspiring to defraud banks. Freeing Meng has now become a political priority for Beijing, as Huawei’s global ambitions, especially its 5G networks, are closely tied to China’s disputes with the US, the South China Morning Post reported.
(Banner image: Kalligraf/Wikimedia Commons)