On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that US Ambassador Grenell sent a warning letter to the German government, arguing that Huawei equiment may have been compromised by Chinese intelligence.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said earlier that Germany does not want to ban Huawei. Instead his country will ensure that all of the components in its 5G network are secure, Altmaier said.
Thus, equipment related to its mobile networks will be tested by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Also, network operators will be encouraged not to rely on any single company in an effort to prevent a monopoly.
According to Grenell however, Chinese law requires all corporations to submit to Chinese intelligence, and therefore the security of Huawei products may be compromised after purchase.
China maintains that the Trump administration is focusing on Chinese electronics in a bid to capture the market by creating business opportunities for American firms.
Grenell said Germany should instead support Ericsson Communications of Sweden, Nokia of Finland, or Samsung of South Korea to build its 5G network.
Grenell’s warning is the first time that the Trump administration has openly threatened repercussions for countries that purchase Huawei equipment, The Wall Street Journal highlighted.
But it appears that Germany will not be swayed by Grenell. “An official from the German Economic Ministry dismissed the letter from Grenell, saying that it included no new information and reiterating that there was no evidence to support US claims that Huawei posed a risk,” Asia Times reported on Monday.
But interestingly, the US will not impact the UK if it allows Huawei to be involved in the roll out of future 5G networks.
Two individuals briefed on the situation told the Financial Times that the US ambassador to London, Robert Johnson had not written a similar letter to the UK government, even though Britain plans to use the Chinese equipment for its future telecoms infrastructure.
The National Cyber Security Centre, part of UK signals intelligence agency GCHQ, claims it can “manage the risk” posed by Huawei equipment. Also, UK and US security officials said Britain should be treated differently to European counterparts because of the special relationship the UK has with America through its membership of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing alliance, which also includes Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Grenell has scolded the German government publicly on several occasions already. In January he wrote to companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, warning that their activities “carry significant sanctions risk”.
On the day he took office last year, he tweeted that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately”.
Meanwhile, an editorial in a Chinese state-run newspaper said that Huawei was “facing a politically motivated crackdown by the US government”. US prosecutors have been trying to extradite Huawei’s chief financial officer from Canada to face charges she lied to banks about dealings with Iran.
Some countries, notably Australia, Japan and Taiwan have imposed curbs on the use of Huawei technology over security concerns. The company operates testing centers in Britain, Canada, Germany and Belgium for governments to examine its technology.