Threatening letter from the ambassador | TIME ONLINE


The cooperation with the US secret services was for Germany "of
      German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently spoke at the inauguration of the new
      BND headquarters formulated. "I would say: vital."

Since Friday of last week, this cooperation is in question. The US Ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, has written a letter to Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU). In it, he threatens to reduce the intelligence exchange with the German security authorities, the federal government, the Chinese Huawei Group to participate in the construction of the new 5G mobile network. in the
Wall Street Journal
a US diplomat quoted as saying that the information exchange with Germany would then be viewed as if every secret message were automatically sent to the Chinese government.

So far, the intelligence cooperation had survived all the scandals of the recent past largely unscathed, be it the NSA affair to the intercepted Chancellor cell phone or the annoyance of the CIA spy in the BNDwho flew in 2014. Security was always more than day politics.

If you believe the threat from Washington, that could change. The Americans suspect Huawei of spying on behalf of the Chinese government, and they worry that the Chinese are dominating one of the key industries of the future and a key technology of the mobile Internet.

The Federal Government shares these fears that it would like to give up as well Huawei to renounce as a supplier. But the technology from China is considered a leader, one and a half to two years should currently be the lead. In addition, Huawei is cheaper than competitors like Ericsson or Nokia. Without Chinese technology 5G would probably not only later, it would also be significantly more expensive.

In Berlin, Grenell's threatening letter is considered an unusually aggressive act. "For the Federal Government, the security is a great asset, especially in the expansion of the 5G network," countered Merkel. "That's why we set our standards for ourselves." Translated that meant: security is important, but who builds our network, we decide ourselves.

Last week, the Federal Network Agency published a list of requirements, which stipulates: "Systems may only be obtained from trustworthy suppliers who are in strict compliance with national safety regulations and telecommunications secrecy and data protection regulations." A technocratic description that creates the legal basis for excluding companies such as Huawei or the Chinese company ZTE from the award in case of doubt. But no decision is yet involved.

The Federal Government wants to meet only in close coordination with the British and the French. In the conversation is a variant that builds the core of 5G without Chinese technology, but allows Huawei devices in less sensitive places. If the Americans wanted to restrict the intelligence exchange with the Germans, they would then logically also have to do with the British – but like the US are part of the "Five Eyes", an intelligence alliance that shares almost all secrets with each other. Is the Trump administration ready?

More likely in Berlin is that Trump's frontman Grenell builds a threat to increase the pressure – in the hope that a deal with the Germans, which may not achieve what is required in the letter, but in the end trumps Strengthens position in geopolitical power struggle with China.