(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she’s loath to cave in to U.S. pressure to bar Huawei Technologies Co., saying she won’t single out individual vendors as Germany toughens its security requirements for mobile networks.
“There are two things I don’t believe in,” Merkel said in an onstage discussion Tuesday at the Global Solutions summit in Berlin with John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News. “First, to discuss these very sensitive security questions publicly, and second, to exclude a company simply because it’s from a certain country.’’
European carriers have warned governments that sidelining Huawei would delay fifth-generation networks by years. The Chinese vendor, which has repeatedly denied U.S. allegations it could enable Chinese state-ordered spying, is deeply embedded in Germany’s phone networks, so restrictions would be more disruptive than in some other countries.
Germany on Tuesday started selling 5G-ready airwaves to carriers including Deutsche Telekom AG, Vodafone Group Plc and Telefonica SA. The rollout is critical as Europe’s biggest economy tries to reduce its dependence on old-school engineering.
The country lags behind the likes of Qatar, Albania and Moldova when it comes to mobile internet speeds, a handicap in the transition to a data-based economy. Merkel’s government has promised to create a “world-class” digital infrastructure and end the notorious dead zones that dot the countryside.
Germany shouldn’t be naive when it comes to the security of its networks, Merkel said, adding that a joint European solution to the Huawei issue “would be desirable.”
5G technology is harder to police and that’s why Germany is tightening requirements for companies that want to supply the technology -- whether they’re from China or elsewhere, Merkel said.
“Of course we’re in a systemic competition with China,’’ Merkel said in a separate speech at the same event. “But the answer can’t be that we fight those who are economically strong, we must stand up for fair, reciprocal rules and not give up on multilateralism.’’
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