Germany could ban Chinese Huawei and ZTE from parts of 5G networks – source

  • German examines the security of telecommunications technology providers
  • Could ban third-party government-controlled providers
  • Could force operators to tear and replace, no compensation
  • It is unclear which components might be banned, how widely used they are

BERLIN, March 7 (Reuters) – Germany is considering banning some components from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE from its telecoms networks, a government source said, in a potentially big move to address security concerns .

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the German government was carrying out a general review of telecommunications technology providers, but said it was not aimed at specific manufacturers.

The German government, which is in the midst of a broader reassessment of its relationship with China, its biggest trading partner, has been wary of expressly targeting Huawei, while pursuing legislation allowing it to crack down on the company.

A Home Office document on the review obtained by Reuters said a specific supplier could be barred from supplying critical components if it was found to be directly or indirectly controlled by another state’s government.

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“We cannot depend on components from individual suppliers,” Finance Minister Christian Lindner told Welt TV.

The review could lead Germany to ask operators to remove and replace components already integrated into networks, the Interior Ministry spokesperson said, adding that current legislation does not provide compensation for them. .

“It’s a sign that the German government may finally be taking China-related national security risks seriously,” said Noah Barkin, editor of the China division of research firm Rhodium Group, which specializes in research. German-Chinese relations.

“But after years of dithering, the German 5G network is deeply dependent on Chinese suppliers. It will take many years to fix this.”

Critics of Huawei and ZTE say their close ties to Beijing’s security services mean their integration into the ubiquitous mobile networks of the future could give Chinese spies and even saboteurs access to critical infrastructure.

Huawei, ZTE and the Chinese government reject the claims, saying they are driven by a protectionist desire to back non-Chinese rivals.

Referring to reports in German media about a possible ban, the Chinese Embassy in Germany said in a statement that Beijing would be “very perplexed and strongly displeased” if such a decision were taken.

A Huawei spokesperson said it had not commented on the speculation and had a “very good security record” in its 20 years of supplying technology to Germany and the rest of the world. . A ZTE spokesperson said no evidence had been produced to suggest its products were unsafe, but welcomed an external review.

Asked about the potential ban, two of Germany’s major telecom operators, Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) and Vodafone Germany (KABLD.UL), said they were in full compliance with existing regulations but did not respond to speculation. policies.


While several countries across Europe are still shaping telecom policies, only Britain and Sweden have so far banned Huawei and ZTE from supplying critical 5G network equipment.

“The devil is in the details, it would be a big step forward if it included all the components of the access network where operators have made excessive use of Huawei in recent years,” said Thorsten Benner, Chinese expert and director from the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin.

Germany passed an IT security law in 2021, setting high barriers for telecoms equipment makers for next-generation networks, but stopping short of banning Huawei and ZTE as some others have done. country.

A new report shows that Germany has actually become even more dependent on Huawei for its 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment than for its 4G network, even as carriers have avoided using Huawei’s technology. company for core networks.

Last month, the German government was unable to respond to a parliamentary request regarding the number of Huawei component carriers used in their 5G networks, filed in part in response to the report.

“It’s disconcerting that the government is only now starting to do extensive mapping of where carriers are using Huawei and ZTE components and they don’t have that real-time information,” Benner said.

Swedish telecoms regulator PTS, which in 2020 banned Chinese companies from deploying 5G, gave telecom operators participating in 5G auctions until January 1, 2025 to remove Chinese equipment from their infrastructure and core functions.

Britain, meanwhile, wants telecom companies to phase out Huawei equipment and services in core network functions by December 31, 2023, against an original target of January 28, 2023.

The deadline for removing all Huawei equipment from UK 5G networks by the end of 2027 remains unchanged.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh, Andreas Rinke, Friederike Heine and Hakan Ersen; Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Liz Lee; Editing by Alexander Smith and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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