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Deutsche Telekom proposes steps to keep Chinese vendors in 5G

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom, Europe's largest telecoms group, on Wednesday proposed a series of steps to ensure that Chinese vendors can take part in building Germany's 5G mobile networks without jeopardising national security.

The partly state-owned company proposed that all critical infrastructure should be independently certified before deployment by an independent laboratory under state oversight.

The move came as the government in Berlin held a first high-level meeting on whether to shut out Chinese vendors led by Huawei following U.S. warnings that their equipment may contain 'back doors' open to cyber-espionage.

The United States has shut Chinese vendors out of government contracts, while ally Australia has barred the Shenzhen-based company from its 5G rollout.

Huawei, the global networks market leader with annual sales exceeding $100 billion, denies that such security loopholes exist. Deutsche Telekom and its competitors Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland use Huawei gear extensively and also dismiss the cyber claims as groundless.

"Deutsche Telekom takes the global debate on the security of network equipment from Chinese providers very seriously," Deutsche Telekom said in a statement that spelled out how best to address them.

In a second proposal, it called for vendors to be required to submit their source code to a trusted third party. Under prescribed circumstances, an operator would be able to gain access to address any security vulnerabilities.

Further, it said that legal obligations and liability for the security of critical infrastructure should be broadened to cover network vendors in addition to operators, as is the case now.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Mark Potter)