Before the political decision on the role of Chinese companies in the German 5G network, the US State Department warned the German government of the danger of isolating itself within Europe.
“This is about a German decision, we respect that,” said the Foreign Secretary responsible for economics, Keith Krach, the Handelsblatt. “But I would point out that most of the countries around Germany have joined our initiative for clean networks.”
In fact, countries like Denmark, Poland, Romania, Great Britain, France and Slovenia have distanced themselves from the controversial Chinese network supplier Huawei. Krach described Huawei as the “backbone of the Chinese surveillance state” and recalled allegations by the US judiciary that Huawei had stolen intellectual property from Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile. A Huawei spokesman dismissed the “repeated accusations without any supporting evidence.”
After the summer break, the federal government wants to present a new IT security law that should clarify the crucial question: Can providers from authoritarian states be trustworthy suppliers of critical infrastructures? European companies are coming as an alternative to Huawei Ericsson and Nokia in question.
For Krach it is clear: “The decision that the Federal Government is facing is: Who do you trust? Do you trust European providers? Or do you trust a company that enables tyranny, human rights abuses and a Big Brother surveillance state? “
Krach is a career changer in politics. Before joining the US government, he worked in Silicon Valley and led the American tech companies Ariba and DocuSign.
Read the full interview here.
Mr. Krach, the US government wants to reduce China’s influence on global data networks. What makes China so dangerous that the superpower America is waging a campaign against apps like Tiktok and technology suppliers like Huawei?
What it is about is in Article 1 of the German constitution: “Human dignity is inviolable. To respect and protect them is the duty of all state authority. “
I beg your pardon?
In the past few months alone, the Chinese Communist Party has unleashed a pandemic, abolished Hong Kong’s freedoms and provoked a bloody confrontation on the border with India. And it has continued to suppress the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, where the regime tortures, sterilizes and enslaved people. These human rights violations are made possible by China’s Big Brother surveillance state, which records billions of people worldwide. That is the reason why we started the “clean networks” initiative.
What’s it all about?
We address long-standing problems in the areas of data protection, data security, human rights and trusting cooperation. Clean networks are based on internationally agreed digital trust standards. The initiative triggered a wave, 30 countries and 50 telecommunications providers are already involved. The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki put it aptly: “The construction of a clean 5G network is the prerequisite for the strategic technological sovereignty of the EU.”
The German Chancellor and the Deutsche Telekom haven’t convinced you yet. What is your message to Angela Merkel and her advisors?
First of all: This is a German decision, we respect that. But I would point out that most of the countries around Germany have joined our initiative: Denmark, Romania, most recently Great Britain and France.
It has been proven that Huawei stole intellectual property from T-Mobile, the US subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. And it is no secret that China’s surveillance state tramples on human rights; I would therefore remind you again of Article One of the Basic Law. The evidence is clear: Huawei is the backbone of the Chinese surveillance state.
Huawei denies that.
The question Germany faces is: Who do you trust? Do you trust European providers? Or do you trust a company that enables tyranny, human rights abuses and a Big Brother surveillance state?
The Chancellor is likely to remain skeptical.
I see things from the perspective I had in my 30 years as CEO in Silicon Valley: I’ve always admired Germany for implementing the highest digital trust standards worldwide. We hope that Germany will now defend these standards. China’s security law requires every Chinese company, whether governmental or not, to provide any information the government requests. The implications for Germany’s prosperity and security are enormous.
The counter-argument in Berlin is: The Americans are also spying on us, we know that from the Snowden revelations.
In our system, the rule of law applies. In China, the principle of rule by law, which is set by the Chinese Communist Party, applies.
What would the consequences be if the federal government kept the networks open for Huawei – sanctions like Nord Stream 2?
As I said, this decision is a matter for the German population. We would be happy if Germany joins the vast majority of European countries. The German nation is a power for freedom and a natural ally of the free world. You would be the ultimate partner for our clean networks initiative. Without Germany, the alliance would be incomplete.
Countries banning Huawei attract the wrath of the Chinese government.
This is the elephant in the room – China’s threats of retaliation. German automobile manufacturers are dealing with this. The UK was also threatened by China when it ruled Huawei. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo therefore makes it clear: We stand by our allies and defend ourselves against attempts at intimidation. It’s like in the schoolyard: the bullying pull the leash when you have your friends by your side.
Mr. Krach, thank you very much for the interview.