BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In what some are viewing as backpedalling from her previous stance on the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday (Nov 27) that Europe should work out a common strategy toward the roll-out of the next generation 5G mobile network.
"It is undisputed that we need high security standards for the development of 5G networks," Merkel told lawmakers. "But we must also discuss this with other European countries" and try to come up with "European solutions". She added that there should be a centralised European Union agency for "5G certification".
Merkel has previously defied pressure from Washington to exclude Huawei from taking part in the bidding process for 5G equipment in Germany, insisting the country would define its own security standards for a new 5G mobile network and not "simply exclude one company or one actor".
So perhaps rather than backpedalling, it was a call for support, as she has been the one that has continually stood firm in the face of the Washington's attempts to browbeat its European allies into doing its bidding, regardless of whether it is in their best interests or not.
The United States has ratcheted up pressure on Germany recently, warning of serious implications for their future intelligence-sharing if Berlin gives Huawei a role in its 5G network construction.
At the same time, Merkel has also come under fire from within her own centre-right Christian Democratic Union, with critics accusing her of bowing to pressure from China by opening 5G tenders to Huawei.
As a veteran politician who has visited China 12 times during her 14 years of chancellorship, Merkel certainly appreciates the tremendous benefits Germany stands to reap from enhanced Sino-German cooperation in an era of increasing unilateralism and trade protectionism.
During her most recent visit to China in September, Merkel reiterated that Germany was open to Chinese investment and welcomed all Chinese companies to invest in the country.
The high-tech sector is no exception to that.
All the telecoms operators in Germany are customers of Huawei and have warned that banning it would delay the launch of 5G.
Of course, it is not easy for Merkel to try to strike a balance in dealing with China, which is her country's largest trading partner, and the US, which is its closest military ally.
But rather than being dictated to by someone behaving like "the high commissioner of an occupying power", as Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of Germany's pro-business Free Democratic Party, described US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, Germany and other European countries should decide for themselves whether or not Huawei represents a security threat, instead of taking Washington's unsupported word for it.
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