Germany to ban China's Huawei, ZTE from 5G networks: report

Germany is set to address security concerns by banning telecoms operators from accessing parts made by Huawei and ZTE in 5G networks, both of which are Chinese companies. 

Reuters reported that this move could include parts that are already integrated into pre-existing networks, which would require operators to remove and replace them. 

Germany has been in the midst of a re-evaluation of its trade relationship with China, according to the report.

A spokesperson for the interior ministry has reportedly confirmed that the European country is currently conducting a general review of telecoms tech suppliers. However, this review is apparently not directed at specific manufacturers.

No operators have yet been banned from using certain Chinese components in their 5G networks, the spokesperson noted.

"The main change is that these strict checks for potential security risks now also apply to the existing components in telecommunications networks," according to the spokesperson. It was also stated that operators would not be reimbursed if they had to replace certain parts of the network. 

"This is a sign that the German government may finally be taking China-related risks to national security seriously," Noah Barkin, managing editor of Rhodium Group, said. "But after years of dithering, the German 5G network is deeply dependent on Chinese suppliers. It will take many years to unwind this."

The German government's move appeals to many critics of Huawei and ZTE, who believe that the pervasive presence of China's technology in mobile networks could give the Eastern power's spies and agents easier access to its tech apparatus.

However, the Chinese government has rejected these claims, charging German with protectionism

A ZTE spokesperson said that though there is no evidence to support the case that their networks were not secure, they are open to scrutiny. A Huawei spokesperson noted that they have "a very good security record" over its 20 years of business with Germany.

While skepticism over Chinese-related tech, Britain and Sweden are the only two countries in Europe to have a full ban on Huawei and ZTE from supporting important 5G network materials.

Last month, the German government was not able to give a sufficient answer as to how many of Huawei's parts operators are currently using in their 5G networks. 

"It's disconcerting that the government only right now starts to do a thorough mapping of where operators use Huawei and ZTE components and that they don't have that information in real time," Thorsten Benner, China expert and director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, said.

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