Merkel pushes back on calls for Huawei ban in Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday pushed back against calls to impose a blanket ban on Chinese telecoms equipment vendor Huawei, which would prevent it from providing gear for Germany’s 5G networks.

“There are two things I don’t believe in. First, to discuss these very sensitive security questions publicly, and second, to exclude a company simply because it’s from a certain country,” Merkel told an audience in Berlin.

“The government has said our approach is not to simply exclude one company or one actor, but rather we have requirements of the competitors for this 5G technology,” she said.

Germany is weighing strong requirements and limits for Chinese telecoms equipment vendor Huawei in the country, and its regulators recently released stricter draft requirements for operators and vendors on cybersecurity. But the government has dismissed calls for blanket bans on Huawei and ZTE.

Calling China a “systemic” competitor, Merkel said “the answer can’t be that we fight those who are economically strong. We must stand up for fair, reciprocal rules and not give up on multilateralism,” adding that a European approach to the issue would be “desirable.”

European leaders have an EU-China summit scheduled early April to debate trade relations, and the issue of whether Europe would impose restrictions on Chinese telecoms equipment vendors Huawei and ZTE is high on the agenda.

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