German foreign minister warns over Huawei’s state ties

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A staff member stands at the front desk of Huawei’s Cyber Security Lab on July 29, 2019, in Dongguan, Guangzhou. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday questioned whether the country should allow Huawei access to its fifth-generation wireless network rollout because the company is compelled to hand information over to the Chinese government, Reuters reported.

Why it matters: The remarks came just weeks after German authorities drafted security guidelines calling for would-be suppliers to 5G network operators to pledge that they won’t reveal data to their home governments under legal pressure, a strong sign that Berlin may exclude Huawei from its 5G network build.

  • The guidelines require 5G equipment suppliers to submit a document self-declaring their trustworthiness.
  • The German government documents echo an earlier report by the European Union which warned “hostile third countries” may force 5G suppliers to facilitate cyberattacks serving their own national interests.

Germany wants Huawei to self-declare its trustworthiness to join 5G push

Details: Maas told reporters in Berlin that Huawei was a company dependent on the Chinese state due to its national security laws. A 2017 law requires organizations and citizens to “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.”

  • Germany, therefore, wants to subject 5G gear suppliers to a test of trustworthiness and examine if they are forced by law in their home countries to pass on data that actually should be protected, said Maas.

Context: The US has been urging European nations to exclude Huawei from their 5G network rollouts, saying its equipment could be used by the Chinese government to spy on their communications. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.

  • Countries such as the US, Australia, and Japan have banned Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, but no EU member states have complied with White House pressure so far.
  • Huawei said last month that it had signed more than 60 commercial 5G equipment contracts worldwide.