Chinese ambassador threatens Germany over Huawei 5G . . .
China’s ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, has threatened Berlin that there will be “consequences” should the German government ban Huawei from its 5G market. His threats have put Chancellor Angela Merkel in a precarious position. Merkel has been holding the middle ground on the 5G issue, resisting Washington’s – and increasingly domestic – demands to ban Huawei. Merkel’s government has proposed procedures for technical certification and scrutiny of 5G equipment suppliers without excluding particular vendors or countries, but a coalition of German lawmakers has been pushing to exclude the Chinese telecom. Meanwhile, one of Germany’s network providers, Telefonica Deutschland, announced last week that it has chosen Huawei as its 5G equipment vendor.
Not just in Germany . . .
Earlier this month, Wu’s colleague in Denmark, ambassador Feng Tie, made the news after he threatened the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, with scrapping free trade deal negotiations with the Faroe Islands should Huawei be excluded from its 5G market. The Faroe Islands government denied the reports, saying that the use of Huawei 5G equipment would be decided solely by network providers. Politicians globally face the dilemma of balancing not only the cost and effectiveness of 5G equipment, but also their countries’ relations with the U.S. and China, as well as domestic push-back over national security concerns. The French and Italian governments recently passed laws that give them the power to exercise more scrutiny over 5G infrastructure in the name of national security.
A familiar trope in Canada . . .
Canada is experiencing its own Huawei dilemma. Ottawa’s relations with Beijing have spiralled to an all-time low since Canada arrested Huawei’s CFO last year on a U.S. extradition warrant. While Ottawa remains undecided on whether to ban Huawei 5G equipment, it is under pressure from the U.S. to do so, and domestic opinion towards China, which has detained two Canadians on spurious charges for over a year now while introducing a series of damaging trade restrictions, is increasingly negative. Last week, Canada’s opposition parties led by the Conservatives created a special parliamentary committee on China that will allow MPs to review “all aspects of the Canada-China relationship.” It is anticipated that this will pose further difficulties for the Liberal government as it seeks to improve relations with Beijing.