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Germany reviews use of Chinese components in its 5G network

The German government is examining the nation’s 5G systems following concerns that Chinese components that comprise the network pose a risk to critical infrastructure.

user icon Daniel Croft
Mon, 17 Apr 2023
Germany reviews use of Chinese components in its 5G network
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The German Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, has said that the Interior Ministry is re-evaluating the Chinese components used in the 5G network, while the relationship between Germany and China is also being reviewed.

According to Minister Faeser, the investigation will prioritise identifying risks, averting dangers and avoiding dependencies.

“We have to protect our communication networks,” she said.

“This is especially true for our critical infrastructure.”

Germany has for some time been considering removing Chinese network components from companies like ZTE and Huawei, a move already made by Australia and the US.

According to Reuters, the German government has been hesitant in banning Huawei specifically but had previously said that a specific supplier could be stopped from supplying the nation with critical components, if it was shown that the company could be controlled by the government of another nation, directly or indirectly.

Both Chinese telecommunications companies have been criticised for their close ties to the Chinese government and security services, with experts saying that the use of components from the companies in critical infrastructure and communication networks could provide a window for Chinese espionage.

ZTE, Huawei and the Chinese government have all rejected these claims, with the Chinese embassy in Germany saying that China would be “very puzzled and strongly dissatisfied” if its components were banned.

Cyber experts are saying that the move to evaluate Chinese components in critical infrastructure is a step in the right direction but could be too little too late.

“This is a sign that the German government may finally be taking China-related risks to national security seriously,” said the managing editor of Rhodium Group’s China practice and expert on Germany-China relations, Noah Barkin.

“But after years of dithering, the German 5G network is deeply dependent on Chinese suppliers. It will take many years to unwind this.”

The move comes only months after Australia looked to evaluate its use of Chinese security cameras in government buildings.

Defence Minister Richard Marles ordered that around 900 Chinese-made security cameras be removed from government buildings following security concerns.

“This is an issue — we’re doing an assessment of all the technology for surveillance within the Defence estate, and where those particular cameras are found, they’re going to be removed,” Minister Marles said in an interview with the ABC.

“I don’t think we should overstate it, but it’s a significant thing that’s been brought to our attention, and we’re going to fix it.”

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