BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany does not want to follow the United States in generally banning products made by Chinese telecoms equipment makers such as Huawei, but will continue making such decisions on a case-by-case basis, an Economy Ministry spokesperson said on Friday.
Berlin’s relationship with Beijing has come under close scrutiny since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which exposed the German economy’s reliance on Russia for energy and made officials wary of a similar dependence on China for trade.
Germany has come under particular pressure to take action on China’s telecoms gear makers after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission last week banned approvals of new equipment from Huawei and ZTE because they pose “an unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security.
A German Economy Ministry strategy paper seen by Reuters on Thursday detailed recommendations to increase the level of scrutiny on the use of components from certain states.
The paper mentions legislation introduced in Germany in 2020 that set high hurdles for makers of telecommunications equipment for next-generation networks, such as Huawei.
Under that legislation, individual IT components or entire companies can be banned and declared untrustworthy if suppliers make false declarations, do not support security audits or fail to report or patch vulnerabilities promptly.
The 104-page strategy paper suggests going a step further, allowing a ban of components and products made by suppliers in authoritarian states for telecommunications and IT as well as for other critical infrastructure such as transportation or water and food supply.
When asked whether it expected a tightening of rules or even a ban in Germany or the European Union, Huawei told Reuters on Friday it relied on constructive and facts-oriented dialogue.
“Secure use of networks is independent of a provider’s country of origin and can only be ensured by means of global standards in international cooperation between industry and regulatory authorities,” Huawei said.
Representative Michael McCaul, top Republican on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Germany was “jeopardizing its own national security and that of Europe’s” in its decision on Huawei. “Berlin didn’t learn from their reliance on Russia for energy and they are making the same mistake by allowing China access to its telecom,” McCaul added.
The Germany Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Miranda Murray and Maria Sheahan; additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Rachel More, Peter Graff and Sandra Maler)