German intel sharing at risk over Huawei spat

Geraldine Edwards
March 13, 2019

"This could in the future jeopardise nimble cooperation and some sharing of information".

Huawei recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for labeling it a security risk and limiting its access to the American market.

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The letter, which was dated Friday and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, marks the first known time the USA has explicitly warned an ally that refusing to ostracise Huawei could lessen security cooperation with Washington.

While the prospects of trade deal fluctuate daily, the technology cold war between the USA and China continues to escalate.

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Perhaps anticipating China's complaint that the Trump administration is cracking down on Chinese electronics to drive them off the market and create business opportunities for American firms, Grenell advised the Germans to hire Ericsson Communications of Sweden, Nokia of Finland, or Samsung of South Korea to build its 5G network. According to FCC filings, those cell towers use Chinese technology that security experts warn could allow China to gather intelligence while also potentially mounting network attacks in the areas surrounding this and other sensitive military installations. Just last week, the Italian government received a rebuke from a senior United States security official for saying it would discuss with Beijing possible participation in China's Belt and Road Initiative - a major infrastructure project meant to improve links between the country and its major suppliers and markets.

Along with most European countries, Germany's security agencies are heavily reliant on US intelligence to fight terrorism. As CNBC reports, both the 2017 National Intelligence Law and the 2014 Counter-Espionage Law mandate that Chinese firms comply with state security efforts. Germany announced March 7 that it wouldn't ban any company from bidding on 5G contracts.

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Altmaier told French news agency AFP he could not comment on the letter's contents, but said that: "We will respond quickly".

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