Merkel says ‘no pressure’ from Beijing to accept Huawei in 5G rollout

Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that Germany would insist on stringent security standards. (File pic)

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said she was not aware of any pressure from Beijing to include Huawei in Germany’s 5G rollout, amid concerns that the Chinese telecoms giant could be used for spying.

“I have not heard about any pressure from Chinese state authorities,” Merkel told German lawmakers when she was asked if Beijing had sought to influence Germany’s decision-making.

Despite fierce objections from the United States and other allies, Germany has so far refused to ban Huawei from playing a role in developing the country’s next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Merkel reiterated that Germany would insist on stringent security standards without barring individual companies.

“I’m against excluding a single company but I’m in favour of doing everything we can to ensure security,” she said during a question-and-answer session in parliament.

Critics however have accused export-reliant Germany of trying to appease China, its largest trading partner, and putting economic interests first.

Huawei has strongly denied allegations that its equipment could be used to spy for Beijing.

The company’s chairman Liang Hua told AFP that Huawei had never been asked by the Chinese government to eavesdrop on its customers.

“In the past 30 years we have never been the object of such a request. Even if one was made in the future, we would turn down such a request,” he said.

Telecom experts consider the company as the leader in 5G equipment, in terms of both technology and price.

But US President Donald Trump has ordered American firms to cease doing business with Huawei over the espionage concerns, and has urged other countries to follow suit.

Australia and Japan have already taken steps to bar or tightly restrict the firm’s participation in their rollouts of 5G networks.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson strongly hinted that Britain would follow.