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US intel may be denied to countries that buy Chinese 5G

Germany can forget about getting as much intelligence from US spooks as it currently does if it allows Chinese telecoms to build 5G infrastructure, a letter from the American ambassador in Berlin has reportedly warned.

Washington is continuing to twist the arms of its European allies to discourage economic cooperation with its biggest geopolitical rival, China. According to the Wall Street Journal, US Ambassador Richard A. Grenell sent a letter to the German economy minister, which said that Berlin should discriminate against Chinese companies like Huawei when selecting providers of 5G equipment to upgrade its networks.

Ignoring the warning may result in the US downgrading its intelligence-sharing cooperation with Germany, the letter dated last Friday said. American intelligence agencies like the NSA are an essential source of information for their German counterparts, which operate under stricter regulations in relation to spying, especially domestically.

Washington considers Chinese companies to be a potential threat, presuming that any equipment and software provided by them could potentially be used by Beijing to spy on other nations. Huawei and ZTE already face restrictions on the American domestic market, while US officials are leaning on other nations to exclude China from the lucrative upgrade of wireless infrastructure to 5G standard.

Commenting on the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said Washington should accept the fact that other countries may take strategic decisions independently, as is their right. Beijing sees US attacks on Chinese telecom giants as baseless scaremongering and a not-so-subtle way of undermining a competitor through political leverage and legal attacks.

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