Following intense pressure from the US on its European allies to boycott the use of Huawei products in the rollout of next-generation 5G products and shut out the Chinese telecom giant from local markets, Germany was the first nation to rebuke Washington, with Handeslblatt reportingone months ago that the German government wanted to avoid excluding products offered by Huawei.
Then it was the UK’s turn, and as we reported three weeks ago, in the latest “serious blow” to US efforts to persuade allies to ban the Chinese supplier from high-speed telecommunications systems, the FT reported that the British government has concluded that it can “mitigate the risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.” The UK National Cyber Security Centre had reportedly determined that “there are ways to limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G ultra-fast networks” and in doing so it was ignoring escalating US efforts to persuade countries to bar Huawei from their networks on the basis that it could help China conduct espionage or cyber sabotage.
Now, it is the US’ turn to respond to these “insurgencies” by western ally nations, and as the WSJ reports, the Trump administration has told the German government it would limit the intelligence it shares with German security agencies if Berlin allows Huawei to build Germany’s next-generation mobile-internet infrastructure.
Needless to say, the warning is “likely to cause alarm among German security circles” amid persistent terror threat, largely the result of Merkel’s disastrous “Open Door” policies which allowed over 1 million middle eastern immigrants into he country.
Citing a letter dated Friday from U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grenell and addressed to Germany’s economics minister, the US diplomat said that the U.S. “wouldn’t be able to keep intelligence and other information sharing at their current level if Germany allowed Huawei or other Chinese vendors to participate in building the country’s 5G network.”
This, as the WSJ notes, marks the first time the U.S. has explicitly warned its allies that refusing to ostracize Huawei could have consequences on these countries’ security cooperation with Washington. European security agencies have relied heavily on U.S. intelligence in the fight against terrorism for instance.
And now the ball is in Europe’s court, which unless it wants to engage in intelligence-sharing with Moscow and Beijing, will find itself very hard pressed to ignore the latest gambit by the Trump admin. It will be just as interesting to watch how Europe seeks to de-escalate the tensions over the treatment of Huawei when both the UK and Germany already made it clear they will not be dictated to by the US.
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