The country’s Interior Minister expressed “concern” over the close ties between Huawei and Deutsche Telekom.
This week Germany’s Interior Minister said she is concerned about the close ties between Deutsche Telekom and the Chinese company Huawei. Minister Nancy Faeser told the Handelsblatt newspaper on Wednesday that she intends to examine the “pact” Deutsche Telekom has with Huawei regarding the supply of products and components used in the German telecommunications systems.
Faeser announced her intentions during a visit to Washington. She told Handelsblatt “it doesn’t sound good”.
However, the Minister needs to tread a tightrope as Huawei components are widely used by Deutsche Telekom and are seen to be a critical part of Germany’s 5G broadband rollout.
“Fierce” criticism from US Senate spurs German action
Telekom and Huawei signed an agreement in 2019 due to increasing friction between the US and China. to “prevent a potential supply risk concerning Huawei products that contain components from the United States,” according to the Handelsblatt.
US politicians see this deal as an attempt to circumvent US sanctions, and the resulting criticism of it is described as “fierce”. US Senator Marco Rubio called the pact “worrying” and clarified that Deutsche Telekom’s actions “should have consequences”.
“Germany and the companies operating there should work with us and not help an opposing regime to undermine international security,” Rubio told Handelsblatt.
Despite assurances from Huawei that it meets the highest security standards, the United States sees Chinese technology companies as a threat to national security. This is particularly dangerous for Deutsche Telekom because more than 60 percent of the company’s sales depend on US business. The fear now is that cooperation with Huawei could permanently damage the group’s reputation in the US.
Deutsche Telekom is under fire from all sides
It seems that Interior Minister Faeser is trying to put out fires on all sides. In addition to angering the US Senate, the Deutsche Telekom-Huawei arrangement has sparked outrage in Brussels. “With such a deal, the company is endangering its future on the US market and is also damaging elementary German interests,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, a German Green MEP.
Deutsche Telekom is also threatened with trouble at home: “The board must now be aware that continuing like this can have catastrophic financial consequences,” warned Bundestag MP Jens Zimmermann.