March 20, 2019
For the past year, as part of Trump’s escalating trade war against China, the Trump administration has been waging a parallel campaign to convince America’s European “allies” (at least until the White House unleashes auto tariffs against Brussles in retaliation for China annexing Italy to the Belt and Road initiative) to bar China’s Huawei Technologies from their telecom networks, a process which so far has culminated with the arrest of the Chinese telecom giant’s CFO in Canada. Bolstered by the success of similar efforts in Australia and New Zealand, the White House sent envoys to European capitals with warnings that Huawei’s gear would open a backdoor for Chinese spies. Last week, the U.S. even threatened to cut off intelligence sharing if Germany ignored its advice.
So far, the gamble to pressure Europe has backfired: not a single European country has banned Huawei.
Confirming that Europe and the US are now allies only on paper, was the scathing commentary by Angela Merkel at a Berlin conference on Tuesday: “There are two things I don’t believe in,” Merkel said: “First, to discuss these very sensitive security questions publicly, and second, to exclude a company simply because it’s from a certain country.”
And just like that, Europe took its place in the grand superpower race: right next to China (and Russia) against the US.
As Bloomberg notes, Europe, and especially Germany, both of which are extremely reliant on continued open trade with, Beijing has been caught in the middle of the U.S.-China trade war. Trying to remain impartial, Europe has been seeking to balance concerns about growing Chinese influence with a desire to increase business with Trump’s trade nemesis. And in a grand quid pro quo, with no ban in the works so far, Huawei is a budget frontrunner for contracts to build Europe’s 5G phone networks, the ultra-fast…