Olaf Scholz’s government resists US pressure to completely ban all products from the Chinese company.

This week, Reuters reported that Germany does not want to follow the United States in generally banning products made by Chinese telecom equipment makers such as Huawei. Instead, a German Economy Ministry spokesperson told Reuters that the country will continue to make such decisions “on a case-by-case basis”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed the German economy’s reliance on Russian energy. This made officials fear that the country may have a similar dependence on China for trade, which prompted closer scrutiny of Berlin’s relationship with Beijing, Reuters claims.

Indeed, Reuters has seen an Economy Ministry strategy document they say lays out recommendations to increase the level of attention paid to the use of components from certain nations.

The US has applied additional pressure on Germany to take action on banning Chinese telecoms manufacturers after their Federal Communications Commission last week banned approvals of new equipment from Huawei and ZTE because they reportedly pose “an unacceptable risk” to US national security.

Germany has also come under pressure from the European Union to reduce its reliance on Huawei.

Increased hurdles for Chinese companies

German legislation passed in 2020 set strict requirements for telecoms companies to meet. The law says that individual IT components or even 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 strategy paper reviewed by Reuters takes these measures even further. The Economy Ministry suggests a ban on components and products made by suppliers in authoritarian states. The ban would apply not only to telecommunications and IT, but also to other critical infrastructure such as transportation or water and food supply.

Reuters asked Huawei whether it expected tighter rules or even a ban in Germany or the EU. Huawei responded that 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.