Huawei Deal Could Hurt Intelligence Sharing, US Warns Germany

Hugh Fox
March 14, 2019

Richard Grenell, the US Ambassador in Berlin, has written to Germany's economic minister saying that it should not trust Huawei's assertions that it does not hand over information on foreign powers to Beijing.

US intelligence officials have been issuing warnings for years that Huawei technology could possibly be co-opted by the Chinese government for espionage purposes, though they have never publicly released hard evidence and Huawei has repeatedly issued denials.

Europe's security agencies relied heavily on USA intelligence to stop terrorist attacks, the Journal noted.

Up to now, Germany has rebuffed any U.S. attempts to sway it into barring Huawei from participating in the development of its next-generation networks, as Washington and some of its allies did earlier over the company's alleged ties to Chinese intelligence and suspected involvement in commercial espionage.

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The Journal wrote that the National Security Council also warned allies on Monday that use of Huawei technology was ill-advised because 5G networks rely on software that can be manipulated to allow for unfettered surveillance. Hence, the Chinese tech company is credible to bid for the country's 5G project.

The letter said companies like Huawei could compromise secure and confidential communications in defense and intelligence cooperation, including within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

United States officials have grown increasingly exasperated about what they see as Germany's naivety about potential Chinese security threats. Italy and Japan are reportedly considering the same move.

No response has since been released regarding the extent of what covers the intelligence reports that will be denied nor whether the same warning was also given to other countries.

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Germany recently announced all electronics purchased for its mobile networks will be required to pass testing by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), and network operators will be strongly encouraged to buy equipment from a variety of suppliers to prevent any single company from developing a monopoly.

Some measures in the works include adding a non-spying clause, a requirement to publish code sources used in the infrastructures as well as allowing independent laboratories to carry out tests on the components used.

The locus of the US's - and Australia's - concern is the potential threat of Huawei sharing consumer's private data with the Chinese government.

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