US To Germany: Cut Off Plans With Huawei Or Lose US Intelligence

US sent a warning to Germany to cut off future plans with Huawei 5G tech or lose U.S. intelligence access.U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grennel sent a letter to Germany demanding them to block Huawei's entry. Image from BMVI / Flickr

In one of the most explicit demands the US made from its allies, Washington sent a letter to the German government to cut off ties and block all possible attempts of Huawei to enter the country’s telecommunication systems or otherwise face a possibility of losing access to most of US intelligence.

In an increasing tension between the United States and the Chinese tech giant, Huawei, US Ambassador to Germany, Richard A. Grenell, sent a letter on Friday to Germany’s economic minister on Friday to require them to drop Huawei from any plans of entering the country as the next 5G technology provider.

The United States government has accused Huawei of being a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist government that poses a risk in cybersecurity through its 5G technology. The Trump Administration has since banned the company and its products from entering the United States due to the alleged security risks or the possibilities of Huawei used by China to infiltrate government systems, as well as, to interfere secure communication lines as a form of espionage and sabotage.

In a letter dated March 8th, the US Ambassador to Germany, Grenell, said that allowing Huawei to operate and provide services for the country’s 5G project would mean that the United States would not be able to share sensitive information including security intelligence to Germany due to the risks that the company poses.

Most of Europe’s security agencies heavily rely on US intelligence to fight terrorism, and the move of Trump’s administration to deny access to the information to Germany is a massive blow against the country’s anti-terrorism efforts.

In the recent months, the United States has launched a global campaign to urge governments from around the world to not trust Huawei as it is allegedly a Chinese government puppet and will be used to sabotage and spy on other governments. Germany, as one of Washington’s allies, took the note of warning from the US government, however, believes that there is nothing to indicate that the Chinese government can use Huawei in espionage and economic sabotage. Hence, the Chinese tech company is credible to bid for the country’s 5G project.

According to the letter sent by Grenell, secure communications are essential for defense and intelligence cooperation including within the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization, and that companies such as Huawei and state-controlled ZTE Corp. could compromise the confidentiality of these exchanges.

The US security agency underscored that the US would not deny all intelligence from Germany in case the latter would go in bed with Huawei. However, they stressed that the US would no longer trust Germany’s lines because ‘the Americans will assume that all information given to Germany will end up in China.’

Underscoring the warning, the White House National Security Council said Monday that allied governments allowing the use of Huawei technology could lose some of their ability to secure their networks.

“Because 5G networks are largely software-defined, updates pushed to the network by the manufacturer can radically change how they operate,” said Garrett Marquis, NSC spokesman. “The 5G networks our allies buy won’t be the networks that they eventually operate, as the software could be changed on a moment-to-moment basis by the manufacturer.”

No response has since been released regarding the extent of what covers the intelligence reports that will be denied nor whether the same warning was also given to other countries.

The move of US to restrict Germany’s access to its intelligence is a massive blow in Germany’s security community, as it’s a primal consumer of US intelligence from the National Security Agency and other US intelligence reporters in curbing terrorism. Recently, Germans used US intelligence to stop the bombing that contains warfare agent ricin in Cologne last year.

Germany’s telecommunication regulator has updated the requirements to bid for its 5G project. According to a German interior ministry official familiar of the matter, the full list of conditions would be published six to eight weeks from now. The official also revealed that whoever gets the bid to provide the technology for Germany’s 5G infrastructure will be required to sign a no-spy agreement, submit source code for inspection, and allow for oversight of the personnel handling the 5G support.

Amidst the assurance of German that the risk involving Huawei can be contained, Grenell said in the letter that the Chinese government could legally compel any Chinese company to assist them in their operations without checks and balance, and therefore, the risks cannot be mitigated.

About the Author

Al Restar
A consumer tech and cybersecurity journalist who does content marketing while daydreaming about having unlimited coffee for life and getting a pet llama. I also own a cybersecurity blog called Zero Day.

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