American officials came to Europe last week, on what Bloomberg describes as a true little diplomatic offensive. The goal – to persuade its European partners to reconsider hiring the Chinese when building their national 5G infrastructures.
As you all probably know by now, the United States see the Chinese communications giant Huawei as a potential national security disaster. The country’s political elite argues that Huawei may be compelled by the Chinese government to install backdoors into the 5G infrastructure, effectively allowing the Chinese to spy on their western adversaries. This is something the Chinese have been vehemently denying, and while some US partners agreed, others weren’t as fast with their reactions.
This prompted the US to say it would reconsider sharing intel with some allies.
Now, however, multiple officials visited the EU and it seems they may have achieved something.
Last Tuesday, the EU agreed its members should go for a “comprehensive and risk-based” approach to the security of 5G. This means they should hire “trusted” partners for critical components, and should also consider the laws in effect, in the country from which the 5G supplier comes from.
On Wednesday, US president Donald Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a NATO summit, to discuss “the need to exclude untrusted providers”. Germany is an important ally to the States, and also a country whose leaders said Huawei shouldn’t be banned from the get-go. Deutsche Telekom, one of the country’s main telecommunications provider, stopped taking 5G orders from Huawei due to its uncertain status.
American diplomats consider all of this as a win of their own, as they gave the following statement:
“We were very pleased to see the conclusions on 5G that the EU council released,” Rob Strayer, the U.S. State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for cyber, said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
Keith Krach, the State Department’s under-secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment said: “I would like to salute the EU leadership on the position they’ve taken on securing 5G.”