China's intelligence law once again raises concerns in Brussels

The law should not be ignored when deciding on the construction of 5G networks in Europe, the bloc states

EU Commissioner for Security, Julian King

The European Union must take China’s national intelligence law into account when deciding on the construction of 5G networks in Europe, EU Commissioner for Security, Julian King, insisted on Friday.

“When we think about the overall security of products and supplies from different sources, we can think of their legal regime” King told journalists on Friday. “In China, they have a national intelligence law that puts broad requirements on organisations to support and collaborate in national intelligence work. This is a particular legal legislative framework which is relevant,” he said.

His statement came at a time when EU governments are debating ways to protect next-generation mobile networks from any possible Chinese interference, caught between a US.demand they shun China’s Huawei and growing Sino-European business ties. The EU is also currently working on a risk analysis of developing 5G networks with China, which will be completed in October.

According to King, who said he had had meetings with China’s Ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, there was no intention to single out Huawei simply because it is a Chinese company, though most experts continue to warn of the company’s alleged close links to China’s intelligence services.

“When the Chinese ambassador comes and talks to me about this, I say it’s not because we’re obsessive about China, we’re trying to develop a risk assessment across this market and if you have suppliers which are major suppliers, then they’re going to be a feature the discussion."

Still, many EU governments are concerned that the Chinese government spies on the West. According to an internal European Commission document reviewed by Reuters in January, China’s National Intelligence Law states that Chinese “organisations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work.”

Britain’s National Security Council discussed the issue in April and a decision was made to block Huawei from all critical parts of the 5G network but to give it restricted access to less sensitive parts. A final decision is still pending.

The Chinese government, however has denied that it has any intention to spy on the West and has said any ban on its 5G suppliers is unfounded.

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