US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has reportedly warned the German government that Washington might limit intelligence sharing with Berlin if the latter allows Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co. to build its next generation 5G mobile network.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Grenell had sent Economy Minister Peter Altmaier a threatening letter on 8 March.
According to the German business daily Handelsblatt, the minister’s spokesman confirmed that they had received the letter, but did not reveal any details of its content, saying it would be studied and replied to.
The US Embassy has refused to comment, but its spokesperson pointed out that the existence of an “unreliable provider” of the US ally’s 5G network would raise questions about the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information there, as well as between the country and its allies. According to the embassy representative, this could endanger rapid coordination, especially in times of crisis.
Up to now, Germany has rebuffed any US 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.
Berlin has refused to freeze out Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies, as the country’s Economy Minister Altmaier announced that the government would not want to exclude any company from the upcoming auction of fifth-generation mobile licenses.
However, Germany’s Federal Network Agency published tougher security guidelines for telecom providers, which require suppliers of 5G networks to be “trustworthy”.
The guidelines also stipulate that networks should use components from several manufacturers; the agency said that these rules would apply to all vendors equally, not singling out Huawei Technologies.