German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government could be plunged into further conflict tomorrow as the Social Democrats (SPD) vote on a proposal to block Huawei from the country’s 5G network.
The government has announced plans to toughen up scrutiny of telecoms suppliers, but has stopped short of excluding any country or company.
However, the conservative chancellor is facing a backlash from coalition colleagues, as well as members of her own party, who have called for a fiercer clampdown on the controversial Chinese tech firm.
The SPD and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union last week agreed a plan that would make it more difficult for Huawei to take part in Germany’s 5G rollout.
The proposals, seen by Reuters, dictate that suppliers from countries where “state influence without constitutional supervision, manipulation or espionage cannot be ruled out” would be “categorically excluded” from all parts of the network.
However, SPD members will tomorrow hold an internal vote on the plans following objections from the government.
Despite growing political pressure, Germany’s three major operators – who are all Huawei customers – have warned a ban would slow down the rollout of 5G.
Last week Telefonica Deutschland, the country’s second-largest telecoms firm, chose both Huawei and Nokia to build its network.
“I advise companies to be very careful,” said SPD politician Falko Mohrs.
Merkel is facing pressure from US President Donald Trump not to work with Huawei amid concerns its kit could be vulnerable to spying – an accusation the Chinese company has always denied.
But the chancellor must also navigate political pressure from Beijing. China’s ambassador to Germany Ken Wu last week warned China could retaliate if Huawei were banned, pointing to the millions of cars that German automakers sell in his country.