Merkel unaware of any pressure exerted by China over Huawei

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she had not been told about the Chinese authorities making any threats of retaliation if Germany were to exclude Huawei from its 5G rollout.

China’s ambassador to Germany indicated last week that China could retaliate if Huawei was excluded from Germany’s 5G rollout, pointing to the millions of cars that German automakers sell in his country.

“Nothing has been expressed to me about pressure by the Chinese authorities,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Merkel reiterated she was against singling out an individual company for exclusion from the 5G rollout from the outset but stressed that it was important to factor trust into considerations.

“I am against excluding a company on principle but I am in favor of doing everything to ensure security and that, for example, includes a diversification of offers - we do trust the security authorities in fact - if I stopped doing that, it would be really bad,” Merkel said.

Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat partners have delayed until next year a decision on security rules for Germany’s 5G network that could bar China’s Huawei, a highly divisive issue in an unhappy alliance.

Merkel said: “We are very proud that in this case - unlike in other cases where we are much more dependent - we have two firms in Ericsson and Nokia that also offer very high-quality products.”

Last week, Telefonica Deutschland picked Nokia of Finland and Huawei to build its 5G network. Earlier this month, market leader Deutsche Telekom put all deals to buy 5G network equipment on hold pending a government decision.

Merkel is under pressure from the United States to exclude Huawei, which President Donald Trump’s administration considers a security threat.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Michael Nienaber and Alexandra Hudson