Faeser wants to check Deutsche Telekom’s Huawei pact

Faeser wants to check Deutsche Telekom’s Huawei pact

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser

Berlin The sanctions pact Deutsche Telekom with the Chinese technology group Huawei calls the federal government on the plan. Minister of the Interior Nancy Faser (SPD) announced during a visit to Washington that they wanted to examine the processes. “That doesn’t sound good,” she told the Handelsblatt.

Telkom and Huawei had entered into an agreement in 2019 to “prevent a potential supply risk related to Huawei products containing components from the USA included”, as the Handelsblatt revealed on Wednesday. Politicians see it as an attempt to circumvent US sanctions. The criticism of it is fierce – also in the USA.

US Senator Marco Rubio called the pact “worrying” and made it clear that Telekom’s actions “should have consequences”. “Germany and the companies operating there should work with us and not help an opposing regime to undermine international security,” Rubio told Handelsblatt.

For Rubio, who is considered an influential voice in the Republican Party Huawei is a company “under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party” – a nod to the People’s Republic of China’s security laws that force companies to cooperate with state authorities.

Huawei emphasizes that it meets the highest security standards. But the United States sees Chinese technology companies as a threat to its national security, and the reaction is correspondingly harsh. This is particularly dangerous for Telekom because more than 60 percent of its sales depend on US business. The cooperation with Huawei could now permanently damage the reputation of the group in the USA.

The supervisory board has so far apparently held back

In the supervisory board of Telekom, however, the close ties to Huawei were hardly an issue recently, according to corporate circles. The most recent announcement by the Federal Ministry of the Interior that it intended to take action against Chinese components in mobile communications networks was taken calmly. So far, the Bonn headquarters had not expected any problems in the USA, nor did they expect that Germany swings into the hard anti-Huawei course of the Americans.

>> Read here: How Deutsche Telekom tried to circumvent US sanctions

This calculation is apparently based primarily on experience with the Chancellor’s Party SPD, which had acted extremely conciliatory in the past legislative period. At the time, leading government officials clearly acknowledged that they would have no problem with Telekom making large-scale purchases from Huawei.

The current chancellor, Olaf Scholz, had sent Rolf Bösinger, a close confidante, to the Telekom supervisory board as finance minister. It is said that the councils occasionally asked critical questions about the risk of one-sided dependency, and the resilience of the emergency plans was also examined. Basically, however, the committee agreed that they wanted to build the networks of the future together with the Chinese.

Trouble threatens from Brussels and Berlin

Bösinger’s successor Katja Hessel (FDP) has so far been more reticent when it comes to Huawei. If the federal government is really attempting to make Telekom more independent of Chinese technology, the supervisory board has apparently not heard them so far. A query from the Handelsblatt to Hessel remained unanswered at the time of going to press.

The German mobile phone providers have to scale back cooperation with Huawei. Reinhard Houben, economic policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group

Reinhard Houben, spokesman for economic policy FDPparliamentary group, expressed understanding for the sanctions pact and the decisions of the Telekom board. “2019 was a different time,” says Houben. In the meantime, the situation has changed: “The German mobile phone providers have to scale back their cooperation with Huawei,” he said. But this step must be organized wisely.

The board must now be aware that continuing like this can have catastrophic financial consequences. Jens Zimmermann, SPD digital politician

The arrangement sparked outrage in Brussels. “With such a deal, the company is endangering its future on the US market and is also damaging elementary German interests,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, Green MEP. Telekom is also threatened with trouble in the Bundestag. “The board must now be clear that continuing like this can have catastrophic financial consequences,” warned SPD-Digital politician Jens Zimmermann.

The SPD parliamentary group has always advocated a sense of proportion and a delayed transition to other tech providers. The republican in the US “will not be so forgiving”. The CDUPolitician Norbert Röttgen, who has been warning of dependence on China for years, called on the federal government to exert its influence on Telekom.

The group is about 30 percent state-owned. One must be able to expect the representatives of the federal government on the supervisory board “to think about Germany’s national security interests in all decisions,” stressed Röttgen. The deputy head of the Greens parliamentary group, Konstantin von Notz, shares the criticism from the USA. “We live in a time that requires consistent, value-based action – both politically and economically,” said the chairman of the secret service control committee in the Bundestag.

More: Deutsche Bahn under pressure for using Huawei technology

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