Empire’s Tone-Dead Ambassador Hits Out at Germany Over Huawei, Accuses Berlin of Insulting US Troops
Insists observation US companies pose a similar security threat to Chinese is ingratitude toward US troops in Germany
Editor’s note: A German economy minister suggested that since Germany did not boycott the US in the NSA spying scandal, it would neither ban Huawei. That is a strange statement only in as much NSA spying on Germany, including its Chencellor, is 100% proven, Washington has not been able to back its accussations against Huawei with evidence. Nonetheless it was the US Ambassador to Germany who took issue with the statement saying equating the US with China in this way was for some reason an insult to US troops who in the Ambassador’s opinion “help ensure Germany’s security”.
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The US ambassador to Germany has slammed comments by officials in Berlin suggesting US companies posed just as much of a security threat as Chinese ones, describing them as an “insult” to US troops stationed in Germany.
Richard Grenell, an outspoken champion of Donald Trump’s policies, was speaking after German economy minister Peter Altmaier defended Berlin’s decision not to ban the controversial Chinese telecoms group Huawei.
Mr Altmaier said on a TV talk show on Sunday evening that Germany had “not imposed a boycott” on US tech companies in the wake of the National Security Agency affair, when it was revealed that US authorities had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.
“The US demands from its companies that it passes on certain information needed for fighting terrorism,” Mr Altmaier said during the Anne Will programme on Germany’s ARD TV channel.
In a statement issued by the US embassy, Mr Grenell did not name Mr Altmaier, but said recent comments by “senior German officials” equating the US with the Chinese Communist party “are an insult to the thousands of American troops who help ensure Germany’s security and the millions of Americans committed to a strong western alliance”.
He added that they were also an insult “to the millions of Chinese citizens denied basic freedoms and unjustly imprisoned by the CCP”.
“There is no moral equivalency between China and the United States and anyone suggesting it ignores history — and is bound to repeat it,” he added.
Since taking up his post as US ambassador to Germany Mr Grenell has proved to be a big irritant to Berlin, frequently intervening to criticise German government policy in ways that have enraged his hosts.
Echoing Mr Trump, he has repeatedly criticised Berlin for not spending enough on defence. He also told German companies to pull out of Iran after Mr Trump took the US out of the Iranian nuclear deal, and repeatedly threatened sanctions over Germany’s backing for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Earlier this year, the one-time Fox News contributor said the US would scale back intelligence-sharing unless Berlin blocked Huawei, the Chinese equipment maker, from taking part in the development of Germany’s 5G network.
Washington claims that Huawei could be used by Beijing to conduct espionage or cyber sabotage and has called on allies to formally exclude the company from their 5G programmes.
Ms Merkel has eschewed explicit bans on individual companies, preferring to toughen up security requirements for all participants in the 5G programme regardless of which country they are from.
Mr Altmaier said the government’s aim was to “ensure in a verifiable manner that the Chinese state cannot exert influence [over the digital network] and every single component must be certified to make sure it is not manipulated in any way”.
The fear in Berlin is that a tough approach towards Huawei could trigger retaliation in Beijing against German companies, for whom China is one of their largest markets.
But Ms Merkel’s approach is controversial, even within her own party, the Christian Democratic Union. The CDU passed a motion at its annual conference last week placing tight restrictions on which suppliers Germany should allow into its 5G network.
It said that only those companies “which demonstrably fulfil a clearly defined catalogue of safety requirements” could be considered trustworthy. One of the aims of these requirements would be to make it impossible “for foreign states to exert influence over our infrastructure”. The motion did not single out Huawei or China.
Norbert Rottgen, a CDU MP who chairs the Bundestag’s influential foreign affairs committee and was one of the motion’s sponsors, said it applied to “all companies where the state exerts an influence over their business”. “[But] in fact, what we’re talking about here is China,” he told the FT.
On Monday a French government minister said Paris would not bar Huawei from its planned 5G rollout. The country’s parliament passed a law this year forcing network operators to obtain prior authorisation from the cybersecurity agency before installing equipment.
Source: Financial Times