Merkel's camp stops short of 5G ban on Huawei

BERLIN • Lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservatives have backed a position paper on 5G mobile networks that recommends tougher rules on foreign vendors while stopping short of calling for a ban on China's Huawei, sources said.

The paper was drafted by Christian Democrat leaders to address the concerns of party rebels who see Huawei as a threat to national security. It is intended to lay the ground for the coalition government to adopt a common position on 5G after months of divisive debate.

The move rebuffs US President Donald Trump's calls on allies to bar the Chinese telecoms giant from next-generation networks after Britain stopped short of an outright ban and the European Union backed a rules-based approach.

Several party sources on Tuesday said Christian Democrat lawmakers had supported the four-page paper which, instead of imposing any individual bans, sets out the principles of a risk-management approach.

"State actors with sufficient resources can infiltrate the network of any equipment maker," it said. "Even with comprehensive technical checks, security risks cannot be eliminated completely - they can at best be minimised.

"At the same time, we are not defenceless against attempts to eavesdrop on 5G networks. The use of strong cryptography and end-to-end encryption can secure confidentiality in communication and the exchange of data."

The ironing out of differences with a bloc of pro-American lawmakers marks an important step towards building a broader consensus in Dr Merkel's ruling alliance with the Social Democrats and across party lines.

It will also be important for Germany to present a coherent position at a security conference in Munich this weekend that will be attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

It would be costly and potentially risky for Germany to exclude Huawei. Its three network operators are all customers of the Chinese vendor and Berlin is concerned that such a move might provoke trade retaliation by Beijing.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Merkel's camp stops short of 5G ban on Huawei'. Subscribe