The UK and Germany are increasingly reluctant to allow Chinese telecommunications company Huawei to install 5G equipment in their country after a visit from an American delegation to Europe to demand heightened vigilance to with regard to threats to national security, officials said.
The clear message delivered by the US delegation this month and in online communications is that Germany and the United Kingdom, as the United States' main allies, must protect the security of their telecom networks and their supply chains, officials said.
The warnings come as Germany and the UK prepare for 5G auctions next year for a high-speed service that will enable a new generation of digital products and services. Huawei is the world's largest supplier of telecommunication equipment and was seen as one of the pioneers in the construction of the first networks in both countries, where it conducted extensive testing of 5G.
This week, New Zealand became the last country to take action against Huawei, preventing one of its largest telecom operators from using Huawei's 5G equipment. The United States and Australia have already blocked society for reasons of national security.
In Germany, officials said the government was increasingly suspicious of Huawei's potential involvement in building the country's 5G network. While it is too early to say whether Berlin will ban the participation of Chinese society, the concerns of some parts of the government, including the foreign and interior ministries, are intensifying, said officials.
"The American influence on this issue has really intensified recently," said a German official who requested anonymity.
Cui Haifeng, vice president of Huawei in Western Europe, told the Financial Times in Hamburg that the company was doing everything possible to ease security concerns. When asked if Germany was about to impose a ban, he replied: "Until now, I've never heard of that kind of thing" .
"[For] All technologies for us at Huawei, we always try to put safety and security first, so that all design, products and services are safe, "said Mr. Cui.
In the United Kingdom, the atmosphere changed considerably during the summer when a report from the center was put together to examine the contracts [Huawei kit and software] with Huawei, under the supervision of the intelligence agency GCHQ, reported technical problems in the engineering of the Chinese company that posed "new risks for the British telecommunications networks".
According to people familiar with the matter, the next Huawei Supervisory Board report will go even further, raising new concerns about engineering and the inability of Chinese society to address the security concerns raised in the paper. 2018 report.
Blaming Huawei outright for providing 5G equipment to UK suppliers or removing it from existing telecommunication networks is unlikely, officials said. But the message to the Chinese company would be clear.
"They are slowing Huawei to allow the rest of the market to catch up," said a former intelligence official. "If I were on a board of trustees or the government, I would put it right away."
A council meeting, chaired by the chief executive of the UK's National Cybersecurity Center, Ciaran Martin, and including representatives of some of the major UK telecom operators, is due to be held in December to discuss the next steps that the United Kingdom is taking. Uni should take. .
British security officials rejected the suggestion to toughen their stance in response to growing US pressure, insisting that the concerns are not based on Huawei's Chinese origins as a company, but on the how the company manufactures software and equipment that makes critical telecommunication networks vulnerable. cyber attack.
A spokesman for Huawei said the July report "identified some areas for improvement in our engineering processes." The company added, "We are grateful for these comments and we are committed to resolving these issues.Security remains Huawei's top priority and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems. "
Raffaello Pantucci, director of international securities studies at RUSI, a British think tank, said the US is pressuring China in "a whole host of areas" and pleading for "the unity of its allies in Chinese politics ".
"In the UK, the conversation about China has definitely changed, with hawks becoming somehow dominant," said Pantucci.
The main concern of the United States about Huawei equipment is that the company's ties with the Chinese government could allow surveillance or interference. Huawei strongly denied such accusations.
More generally, the United States is concerned about the potential application of China's intelligence law, approved in 2017, which provides that "Chinese organizations and citizens must do so. . . support, cooperate and collaborate in national intelligence work. " According to US officials, the risk is that it could mean that Chinese companies located abroad are expected to engage in espionage.