German foreign minister doubts Huawei can be trusted as 5G supplier

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at German cabinet meeting in the Chancellery. Berlin, Germany, October, 23, 2019. Credit: Reuters/Annegret Hilse

Germany’s foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that he doubted whether Chinese telecoms giant Huawei should be a supplier for Germany’s 5G network.

Speaking at an event of newspaper group RND on Monday evening, Maas said Huawei was “a company, which through Chinese legal requirements, is dependent on the state, and must pass on information to the state.”

According to a Reuters report, Maas went on to say that on top of the technical certification requirements for 5G components, the German government also wants to examine suppliers’ trustworthiness, and “whether a company may be required by law in its home country to pass on information and data.” “That is the case with Huawei,” he added.

Maas’s comments stand in contrast to the government’s recently released security guidelines for building the country’s 5G networks, in which there was no mention of excluding Huawei. However, the guidelines do include a rule that critical components of the network must certified and providers and suppliers must prove that they are trustworthy.

READ MORE: Germany not to ban Huawei from its 5G networks

After the guidelines were released, leading German politicians, including members of the intelligence services, expressed their concerns about Huawei’s involvement. CDU politician Norbert Röttgen penned an op-ed in the Handelsblatt newspaper with fellow CDU party members saying “trust is not enough” when it comes to 5G.

Röttgen told Politico that the issue was not Huawei per se, but trust in the Chinese leadership: “This is a company that is at the mercy of state interests and can, in doubt, not refuse government-led interference.”

In October, a report by the European Commission warned that “non-EU or state-backed actors” represent the biggest security threat to the EU’s 5G network security.

The US has long been waging war on Huawei, and pressuring Germany and other allies to ban Huawei from supplying 5G network components over spying fears. The UK still has not decided whether to allow Shenzhen-based Huawei to be part of the lucrative bidding process.

READ MORE: Huawei chairman: 5G is 'new electricity'