Merkel Chooses China Over Her Own Party on Huawei

Arne Delfs

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Chancellor Angela Merkel has gotten a lot of advice on why not to allow Chinese equipment supplier Huawei Technologies Co. into Germany’s 5G network. After the U.S. and Germany’s intelligence services, it’s her own party that’s pressuring her for an outright ban.

But Merkel is sticking to her guns, determined to let Huawei participate as long as the Chinese company fulfills certain security standards. “Obviously I take all contributions to the discussion seriously,” Merkel said on Monday after a coalition meeting in Meseberg, 60 miles north of Berlin. “But we in the government have decided to apply a standard, after considerable thought and trusting our security officials -- I consider that to be the right path.”

That amounts to giving the cold shoulder to her own Christian Democratic party, which will vote on a proposed Huawei ban at its convention at the end of this week. Whatever the delegates say, she’ll stick to her current policy -- already increased security is designed to block the Chinese company from the core network but allow it in less sensitive areas.

Germany’s economy minister Peter Altmaier defended Merkel’s strategy on Tuesday. "We cannot punish or promote individual companies. We have drawn up security requirements that have been tightened", Altmaier said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio. "Every piece of equipment that is used in mobile telephony Germany must meet these requirements.”

Security and intelligence officials suspect Merkel and her allies in the Economy Ministry don’t want to ban Huawei so as not to jeopardize trade relations with Beijing

Concerns in Washington and Berlin are over the risks of Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government and 5G’s susceptibility to sabotage or espionage.

Huawei has insisted that it poses no risk to infrastructure in Europe’s largest economy, saying there’s no reason to exclude a company that’s served the telecommunications industry without fault for years.

--With assistance from Iain Rogers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond Colitt, Iain Rogers

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