5G Espionage (II)



BERLIN/BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Own report) – An opening is emerging for Berlin to be able to include Huawei in Germany’s 5G grid installation – contrary to the massive US campaign. The President of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) Arne Schönbohm declared that “an anti-espionage treaty” between Germany and China could help, open the possibility of Huawei’s participation in setting up the grid. Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently seeking to conclude such an agreement. The industry is in favor of using Huawei Technology, because it promises to be the fastest and most cost-effective construction of the strategically important 5G grid. Experts warn that without Huawei, Germany could lag at least two years behind in the development. Meanwhile it has become known that for years, the NSA has been eavesdropping not only on China’s president but on Huawei as well. Allegedly, US spies cannot show any evidence of Huawei being involved in espionage operations – even after having read the emails of numerous employees and those of the company’s board chair.

“No Unacceptable Risk”

A turning point in the intense dispute over the Chinese Huawei Corporation’s participation in the creation of Germany and Europe’s 5G grid, became apparent a few days ago. At the beginning of last week, the results were made known of an official investigation in Great Britain, carried out by the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) – a wing of Britain’s intelligence service British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Contrary to US intelligence services’ allegations, the British investigation concluded that using Huawei 5G Technology presents no unacceptable security risk. It was stated in London that this assessment is not a decision to involve the Chinese company in the construction of Britain’s 5G grid. The government will take that decision. Nevertheless, the NCSC’s assessment provides Berlin with a new margin of maneuver. The British intelligence service would know better than all others – through its particularly close “Five Eyes” intelligence network cooperation with US services – how well-founded Washington’s accusations against Huawei are.[1] If they give a go ahead, the German government can consider this reliable. In the middle of last week, Ciaran Martin, head of NCSC confirmed the assessment that, in principle, there are no objections to Huawei.[2]

“A Political Decision”

In the Economic Interests

Berlin is attempting to avoid the Huawei boycott – loudly insisted upon by Washington – because of pressure from Germany’s business community. In late January, it became known that, according to an internal document, the Deutsche Telekom calculates that removing Huawei from the list of suppliers of fifth-generation networks would delay operation of the technology by at least two years.[6] The fact that Huawei has the most advanced technology available, that it offers the best service and has the greatest experience with 5G – because it is market leader on its home market, China – explains why its exclusion would cause the delay. According to an investigation by the consulting company Deloitte, between 2015 and August 2018, the People’s Republic of China had installed nearly 350,000 cellphone grid relays, supporting the new standard. European countries have installed much fewer, and the USA not even 30,000.[7] German companies also fear that if Huawei were excluded, there may be fewer Chinese contracts, which is an important argument, due to the high significance of access to China’s market. German associations, such as the Federation of German Industries (BDI), also strictly reject decoupling the Chinese telecommunications industry, as Washington seeks to impose. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8]) Due to a lack of their own capabilities, in fields such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence (AI), German companies are currently dependent on intensive cooperation with Chinese companies.

Struggle for Autonomy

On the other hand, Berlin is being confronted with Washington’s efforts to thwart Germany’s attempts to develop an autonomous global policy. US initiatives are motivated by the fact that the German government explicitly strives to “achieve a par” with Washington. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) This would mean a loss of US influence. Whereas the Obama administration had sought to maintain its control by tightly integrating Germany and the EU, the Trump administration is choosing open confrontation.[10] Currently it is seeking to prevent Berlin and Brussels from successfully developing their own initiatives, particularly their efforts to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran, and making the Nord Stream 2 pipeline operational. In addition, US punitive tariffs and its trade war with China is inflicting palpable trade losses on German companies, with Berlin being in no position to defend itself. If the German government should give in on the conflict over Huawei, it is no longer perceivable, what its desired autonomy should consist of.

Reading over the Shoulder

“Everything that the US Government Wants”

Aside from the fact that the report sheds a clear light on the constant allegations of a need for defense against Chinese and Russian internet spying, the author points to another illuminating aspect: not a single case is known, to date, where the Chinese state or Chinese companies have surreptitiously installed “notorious kill switches that can shut down complete wireless network sectors.” The Snowden documents however show “that the NSA has infected tens of thousands of computers with a sleeper software, that can be activated at the flick of a switch and do whatever the US government wants it to do – even, if in doubt, shut down a foreign country’s cellphone network.”[12] As the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has noted, meanwhile, “the US company Verizon’s products are no longer being used in the network of the German government and parliament” – for good reason.[13]

Full article: 5G Espionage (II) (German Foreign Policy)

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