Chinese ambassador threatens retaliation if Germany excludes Huawei

17 Dec 2019

Image: © sirylok/

In response to legislation that could threaten the future of Huawei 5G in Germany, Chinese ambassador Wu Ken has warned that China will not ‘stand idly by’.

Over the weekend, China’s ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, raised concerns about the growing resistance to Huawei from lawmakers in chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would impose a broad ban on what it describes as “untrustworthy” 5G vendors. This could have serious consequences for Huawei, which has faced scrutiny in the US and numerous European countries.

The proposed German legalisation doesn’t explicitly name the Chinese tech giant but, according to Bloomberg, it is directed at Huawei after months of debate about 5G security and the company’s connections to the Chinese state.

In response to the bill, the Chinese ambassador to Germany said: “If Germany were to take a decision that leads to Huawei’s exclusion from the German market, there will be consequences. The Chinese government will not stand idly by.”

At a Handelsblatt event on Saturday (14 December), Ken said that Huawei has no legal obligation to provide data to the Chinese government, before noting that German manufacturers accounted for a quarter of the 28m cars sold in China last year.

“Could we say one day that these German cars are no longer safe because we’re in a position to manufacture our own cars? No. That is pure protectionism,” Ken said.

Faroe Islands deal

The Chinese ambassador to Germany made the comments just days after the Chinese ambassador to Denmark, Feng Tie, was also reported to have made a warning to the government of the Faroe Islands about Huawei 5G infrastructure.

Tie suggested that if Huawei was not given the contract to operate 5G on the islands, then a free trade agreement could fall apart, according to a recording obtained by Danish newspaper Berlingske.

However, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, called the article “false and ill-defined”.

Chunying denied that Huawei is linked to the Chinese government: “Is there any difference and meaning on whether they mentioned Huawei or not? If US officials can slander China’s Huawei all over the world, can’t a Chinese ambassador mention the name of a Chinese company when talking about cooperation with local officials?”

5G expansion plans

As tensions rise in Europe around 5G infrastructure, mobile network Three announced that its roll-out of 5G in Ireland will be pushed out to next year as there is “no demand” for the technology yet.

When Three does launch its 5G network in Ireland, the company plans to do so with Ericsson technology. This would give the Swedish company a major competitive foothold in Ireland over Huawei, as Ericsson already provides the infrastructure for Vodafone’s 5G network, while Eir uses a combination of Huawei and Ericsson technology.

While Vodafone has opted for Ericsson in Ireland, the company’s CEO has spoken out about the negative impacts that the exclusion of Huawei could have in Europe.

Last week, Vodafone boss Nick Read said: “This is competitive. We have to strengthen our ICT and digital capabilities to enable our fantastic leading manufacturing and research development base.

“We have to enable in this window of opportunity to compete against the US or China, or the moment goes. Then, in the end, jobs and the opportunities will move to the US and China. Let’s make sure we don’t hold back 5G.”

Read has previously said that having just two competitors in Europe’s 5G market – Ericsson and Nokia – puts industry and infrastructure in an “unhealthy position”. “If we want to compete against China and the US we need a range of diverse technology,” he said.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic