Many countries are going to build 5G infrastructure, but the approach of the government is completely different. Italian politicians seem to completely ignore the importance of 5G infrastructure for the growth of the country and the potential effects on national security, while senior German officials are planning to exclude Chinese firms such as Huawei from the tender because worried of potential compromise of national security.
Germany is not the first country to ban Chinese firms from the 5G auction, Australia and the US already announced the same decision.
“There is serious concern. If it were up to me we would do what the Australians are doing,” one senior German official involved in the internal 5G debate in Berlin told Reuters.
Officials in the German foreign and interior ministries were informed by Australian and American peers of the risks of using Chinese suppliers like Huawei in 5G infrastructure.
A heated debate is growing in the country and experts fear that this could cause a delay in the implementation of the infrastructure that is planned for 2019.
Officials fear possible interference of the Chinese intelligence that is also allowed under China’s National Intelligence Law, approved in 2017, which states that Chinese “organisations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work”.
Experts believe that companies like Huawei could support the Chinese government in cyber espionage activities or that Chinese intelligence may be able to compromise Huawei’s equipment.
“Cyber security has always been our top priority and we have a proven track record of providing secure products and solutions for our customers in Germany and around the world,” A Huawei spokesman told Reuters.
Huawei believes that the decision to ban it from 5G auctions is “politically motivated” and based on a “mistaken and narrow understanding” of Chinese law.
“Last week, after The Australian newspaper published a story saying Huawei staffers had been used by Chinese intelligence to obtain access codes to infiltrate a foreign network, the company denied that it had ever “provided or been asked to provide customer information for any government or organisation”.” added the Reuters.
“Following Australia’s decision to exclude the Chinese from their 5G network, there is huge angst at Huawei,” said a senior industry official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“They fear a domino effect. If it stops with Australia it is not such a big deal. But if it continues it’s serious. A 5G setback in Germany could ripple across Europe.”
(Security Affairs – 5G infrastructure, China)