Germany could still decide to rule out Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei Technologies from the construction of the country's fifth-generation data network (5G). This is due to security concerns, the defence minister said on Tuesday.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer spoke at a cyber security conference organised by German business daily Handelsblatt. She said that it was important to minimise any risks associated with 5G.
According to Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German government is currently trying to shift the 5G security criteria. They want to shape it in a way that would prevent foreign governments from gaining access to Germany's important infrastructure.
"If that's not possible, then one has to ban Huawei from the procedure - just like other countries have done," said the minister. She is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The comments are the strongest sign yet that Berlin is willing to take a tougher approach on Huawei. It may exclude the Chinese equipment vendor at least from some parts of the 5G network.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also cast doubt on whether Huawei could participate in the construction of the country's fifth-generation data network (5G).
Government officials confirmed last month that Germany's so-called security catalogue foresaw an evaluation of technical and other criteria. But they said no single vendor would be barred in order to create a level playing field for equipment vendors.
The United States has piled pressure on its allies to shut out Huawei, the leading telecoms equipment vendor with a global market share of 28%. They say its equipment contained 'back doors' that would enable China to spy on other countries.
Source: Reuters 5 November, Berlin
Reporting: Andreas Rinke & Michael Nienaber