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Merkel faces backbench rebellion over Huawei

Justin Huggler
The US accuses China of using Huawei technology to spy on the West - REX

Huawei could be excluded from Germany’s 5G network following a backbench rebellion against Angela Merkel.

In a blow to the German chancellor’s authority, backbenchers from her own party and her main coalition partners have united to block the controversial Chinese telecommunications company from the project.

Mrs Merkel has so far defied US pressure to exclude Huawei from the project. The Trump administration accuses the Chinese government of using the company’s technology to spy on the US and its allies.

But Mrs Merkel says Germany’s intelligence services can secure the network and has insisted companies be considered on their technical expertise alone.

She was already facing opposition from her Christian Democrat party (CDU), which voted at its party conference to exclude any company that might be a security risk.

Now CDU backbenchers have gone further, uniting with colleagues from the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD) to draft a parliamentary motion calling on the government to exclude all companies from countries that pose a risk.

Angela Merkel insists German intelligence can protect its 5G network Credit: JULIEN WARNAND/EPA-EFE/REX

“The question of trust in the integrity of the manufacturer and the legal system of the country of manufacture is central,” a text of the motion leaked to Handelsblatt newspaper reads.

The motion calls on Mrs Merkel’s government to "safeguard European security interests by a statutory approval requirement, which takes into consideration the political and legal conditions in the country of origin”.

It specifies that companies based in countries where they might be subject to state interference should be excluded.

MPs plan to introduce the motion next month. The move is a rare instance of backbench cooperation between the two coalition partners, and will be difficult for Mrs Merkel to ignore.

She is said to be keen to avoid damaging trade relations with China by excluding Huawei.

But she has come under intense pressure from Mr Trump over the issue and the backbench move may provide her with cover for a change of course.