Merkel Downplays Chinese Threats Over Huawei’s 5G Presence

(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed any public threats from China should her government issue a ban on equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. from the country’s fifth-generation network.

“Nothing has been communicated to me in terms of pressure from Chinese state actors,“ Merkel told lawmakers in a question-and-answer session in the Bundestag on Wednesday.

Chinese ambassador Wu Ken last week said that a Huawei ban would result in consequences and cited German auto sales in the Asian giant’s market.

Merkel Downplays Chinese Threats Over Huawei’s 5G Presence

Merkel, who is trying to strike a balance between trade ties with China and hardliners warning about potential security risks from Huawei’s ties to the Beijing government, stuck to her position of opposing a ban.

“My position is not to say at the very beginning that one single company is completely out of the question,”Merkel said. “But on the other hand, not to be blind. So, we must have an eye on the trust aspect.”

The German government is thrashing out 5G security standards with lawmakers in the Bundestag in negotiations that are likely to stretch into next year. Legislators from across Merkel’s coalition presented a draft bill last week that would impose a full ban on any “untrustworthy” vendors -- taking direct aim at Huawei.

Peter Beyer, a senior lawmaker in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said earlier on Wednesday that a draft would be finalized at the beginning of 2020 and have to take into account trade interests as well as national security. But he said there was reason to be wary of Huawei as as a factor in cybersecurity.

“We have a lot of information from our intelligence services that makes us a little uneasy,” Beyer, who has been critical of Huawei, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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