The US administration has welcomed reports that Germany is set to take a tougher stance against the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, also noting that they would encourage the country to partner-up with US’s so-called 5G ‘clean network’ program.
Reports surfaced in Berlin yesterday that the German government, in a bolstered version of its IT Security Act, is seeking to introduce new rules to ensure the security of 5G networks, that would de-facto amount to an ‘exclusion’ of Huawei.
German newspaper Handelsblatt reported yesterday that a two-stage procedure for ensuring the security of 5G networks is being considered that involves technical tests of components to be used in 5G infrastructure, alongside a ‘political assessment’ of the trustworthiness of manufacturers.
In response to the news, the US’s Under Secretary of State Keith Krach told Brussels reporters on Wednesday (30 September), that Germany was ‘going in the right direction’ regarding the plans.
Krach revealed that he has been in consultation with the German government and the business community over the measures which could further sideline the Chinese telecommunications firm and that the Germans have been ‘very receptive’ to the US position.
“They are coming out with an IT Security Act, and they are moving in all the right directions,” Krach said on Wednesday.
“Our position is that we want to be able to educate them and we want them to learn from our experiences and the experiences of other countries,” he said, adding that the decision to exclude Huawei from future next-generation telecommunications networks would be a decision for the Germans themselves.
For their part, Huawei came out with strong words in response to Krach’s comments on Wednesday.
“Huawei is victim to a US campaign that continues to erode the soft and hard power of this great country, and the good it could do for the world as a whole,” a company spokesperson told EURACTIV. “Huawei is confident that its partners and valued customers will see through the lies and allegations, and continue to put their trust in the company and its products”.
Krach also noted that the US administration would welcome Germany with open arms to Washington’s ‘Clean Network program,’ which attempts to create a ‘trustworthy’ alliance of global telecommunications firms and countries, in opposition to Chinese firms within the industry.
One of the closest European partners in President Trump’s Clean Network Program has been Poland, who in early September put forward a draft cybersecurity bill likely to have a significant impact on Huawei being able to conduct business in the country’s 5G market.
As part of the potential rules, there are parallels with the direction that Germany is pursuing, with plans to vet providers of hardware and software for potential political influence.
Huawei reacted with trepidation to the measures coming from Warsaw. Ryszard Hordynski, strategy and communications director at Huawei Polska, said that the criteria put forward by the Poles are ‘political’ and not ‘measurable.’
Meanwhile, a statement from Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, regarding his country’s involvement in the US clean network program, read: “To protect our 5G network from potential wrongdoers it is necessary that all European entrepreneurs maintain clean production lines and a 5G Clean Path, free from potential industrial espionage.”
[Edited by Benjamin Fox]