By Femke COLBORNE
Germany is considering a ban on parts made by Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE in its 5G networks from 2026, government sources told AFP on Wednesday.
According to government proposals, Chinese components would be excluded from the country’s “core network” from January 1, 2026, the sources said.
The government also wants to begin phasing out parts made by Huawei and ZTE in Germany’s “access and transport network,” the sources said.
It is understood the ban will apply not only to new parts but also those that have already been installed.
The changes to Germany’s 5G mobile networks run by Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica are “of high importance for the German government in terms of security policy”, according to a draft interior ministry document seen by AFP.
Germany has “significant structural dependencies” on Huawei and ZTE, the document says, leading to “an urgent need for action”.
An immediate full ban on Chinese components would “take full account of security concerns”, but would result in “considerable restrictions on network operations”, the document says.
The plan marks part of Germany’s strategy of “de-risking” its relationship with China, announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in July, according to the draft document.
Germany in July presented a 64-page document outlining its new strategy towards a more “assertive” China, its top trade partner.
Seeking a balance between competing interests of the EU’s biggest economy, the document sought to refresh Germany’s stance toward China as a “partner, competitor and systemic rival”.
“We want to reduce critical dependencies in future,” Scholz said on presenting the strategy, adding that Berlin had “reacted to a China that has changed and become more assertive”.
Huawei is a leading provider of 5G tech, but its penetration into Western markets has been curtailed by a US-led campaign that highlights a danger of China clandestinely accessing data passed through its network products.
– ‘Consequences’ –
EU countries have become increasingly wary of using tech from Huawei or other non-EU vendors that may not comply with EU data protection laws.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, in June described Huawei and ZTE as a risk to the bloc and called on EU member states to exclude the companies’ equipment from their mobile networks.
The commission also said it would stop using services that are supplied by the two companies.
Huawei said in a statement it “strongly opposes and disagrees” with comments made by the commission’s representatives and slammed the move to restrict the companies.
The commission’s announcement came three years after it introduced strict 5G rules but they did not include an outright ban on any supplier and did not name Huawei.
While the bloc wants to maintain ties with Beijing and ensure cooperation on critical issues such as climate change, the move represented a harsher line on China after years of pressure from the United States.
Washington last year issued a ban on the import or sale of communications equipment from Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE.
After the UK in the summer of 2020, Sweden became the second country in Europe and the first in the EU to explicitly ban Huawei from almost all of the network infrastructure needed to run its 5G mobile network.
Beijing warned at the time that the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority’s (PTS) decision could have “consequences” for the Scandinavian country’s companies in China. (AFP)