Trump sends cybersecurity envoy to Germany as US ratchets up pressure on Huawei

Donald Trump’s cybersecurity adviser traveled to Germany to press the case for ostracizing Huawei, according to reports, in yet another arm-twisting attempt by Washington to keep the Chinese tech firm out of Europe.

The White House sent Joshua Steinman to Berlin to consult with German officials tasked with protecting the country’s network infrastructure, Bloomberg reported, adding that Steinman was apparently satisfied by the security measures proposed by his counterparts to safeguard Germany’s future fifth-generation (5G) wireless network. However, the US official still pressured Berlin to take extra precautions with telecommunications giant Huawei.

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Steinman’s visit comes after US Ambassador Richard Grenell sent a letter to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, warning that Washington could downgrade intelligence-sharing between the two nations if its security concerns regarding Huawei were not taken into account.

Germany has pushed back against these open-faced threats, noting that the US has yet to produce evidence that Chinese products would pose a threat to national security. Altmaier responded by saying that Berlin is ready to stand up against the US pressure, while former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder denounced Washington’s actions as “blatant extortion.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated last week that Germany would not exclude Huawei or any other company from helping to develop 5G in Germany simply because they come from China.

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Steinman met earlier in March with Swiss wireless companies to discuss the alleged dangers posed by Huawei. The Chinese company is currently working with local firms to develop Switzerland’s 5G network.

Washington has spared no efforts in attempts to persuade its allies, particularly in Europe, to shut Huawei out of tenders for fast fifth-generation telecom networks. The US repeatedly argued that the Chinese tech giant’s products could be used as a spying tool due to its close ties to Beijing.

The warnings from Washington come as the US is locked in a bitter trade dispute with China, which has yet to be resolved. At the same time, Washington seeks to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada, to prosecute her for ‘violation’ of its sanctions against Iran.

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Huawei repeatedly denied the allegations, accusing the US of failing to produce any evidence of the company’s supposed wrongdoings. The Chinese authorities accused the US of unfair competition and an attempt to sideline Chinese companies in its own push for dominance on the global communications market.

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