Chinese telecommunication companies: Political and legal vulnerabilities and how Europe should deal with them
Policy Brief
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Chinese telecommunication companies

Political and legal vulnerabilities and how Europe should deal with them

The question of how to deal with Chinese telecommunications companies such as Huawei continues to concern decision makers in politics and business worldwide. In the MERICS Policy Brief: „Chinese telecommunications companies: Political and legal vulnerabilities and how Europe should deal with them”, Katja Drinhausen, Mareike Ohlberg and Frank N. Pieke have looked at Chinese national security legislation, the political environment and the special role of private enterprises like Huawei in China.

The authors arrive at the following key findings and recommendations:

  • Faced with technological unknowns, the selection of equipment and service providers for 5G infrastructure is a matter of political trust; Europe needs to decide whether to extend that trust to the Chinese party-state.
  • Chinese national security legislation combined with actual political-legal practice mean that Chinese companies and individuals can be pressured by the party-state to grant access to critical infrastructure and information where it is technically possible.
  • Huawei has been adamant in stating its independence and legal compliance, but Huawei’s expert analysis leaves out the State Security Law, the key component of the national security framework.
  • China itself regards national security as paramount and has extensive legislation in place to restrict access of foreign telecommunication technology providers.
  • European governments should not extend political trust to China prima facie but conduct a qualified risk assessment that also takes the political environment and legal practice into consideration.

The MERICS Policy Brief is a publication tailored to the needs of policy and decision makers focused on China. If you would like to read the full Policy Brief, please contact Claudia Wessling, Director Publications MERICS (claudia.wessling(at)merics.de).

Author(s)
Frank N. Pieke
Frank N. Pieke
Former Director of MERICS (August 2018 to January 2020)
Author(s)
Frank N. Pieke
Frank N. Pieke
Former Director of MERICS (August 2018 to January 2020)