Wed, Feb 06, 2019 - Page 3 News List

More security needed on Chinese firms: Merkel

AFP, TOKYO

German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday called for safeguards to ensure Chinese firms do not hand over private data to Beijing amid mounting security concerns over equipment made by telecoms giant Huawei.

Speaking at Keio University during a two-day trip to Tokyo, Merkel said there was a “big debate” in Germany about using Huawei equipment, with growing calls to prevent the firm building 5G networks around the world.

Germany has taken a prudent approach so far, with the nation’s information technology watchdog saying it had seen no evidence Huawei could use its equipment to spy for Beijing.

However, Merkel said it was necessary to talk to Beijing “to make sure that the company does not simply give up all data that is used to the Chinese state, but that there are safeguards.”

Merkel also said safeguards needed to be put in place to ensure that “when you are working in Germany, that the Chinese state cannot access the data on all Chinese products.”

Huawei has quietly become a leading supplier of the backbone equipment for mobile networks, particularly in developing markets, thanks to cheaper prices.

However, a growing number of Western states are turning their backs on Huawei, fearful that its equipment could be a Trojan horse for Beijing’s security apparatus as Chinese laws require its firms to cooperate with intelligence services.

Huawei denies its equipment could be used for espionage.

“This will continue to be debated and discussed, and it is also part of the discussion with the United States,” Merkel said.

She also said that China’s growing economic clout meant that it had a “growing responsibility for a peaceful world order.”

Beijing would have to step up its place in the world order — for example, in participating in UN missions — as its clout increased, she said.

In related news, the Chinese embassy in Oslo said a Norwegian intelligence assessment that China posed a threat to the nation’s security by seeking to steal its secrets was “ridiculous.”

It also rejected comments by Norwegian intelligence service PST chief Benedicte Bjoernland that people should be aware of Huawei because of its links with China’s government, saying that Beijing was not forcing any companies to build “mandatory back doors” in their software.

While Russian security services posed the biggest threat, China also conducts intelligence operations against Norwegian interests and businesses, including trying to penetrate computer networks, PST said in its annual threat assessment report.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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