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Germany granted me protection as a political refugee. That is I why believe I have a duty to warn the federal government against making a mistake that will have far-reaching consequences. Angela Merkel’s Chancellery hasn’t ruled out the possibility of working together with Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei to build Germany’s 5G mobile technology infrastructure. But Huawei is not a company like any other. It has close ties with the Chinese government and its military. Should Germany decide to allow Huawei to build one of the most critical infrastructure technologies, it would potentially be opening the backdoor for China to access and disrupt key national assets like electric power grids, the banking and financial system and telecommunications. It would also send a signal to those fighting for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong and beyond that Berlin puts economic interests above the consistent defense of Western values.

Ray Wong © Norman Hoppenheit für Die Zeit

If you believe such warnings to be alarmist, then my answer is this: Don’t be naive, Germany. You can’t allow yourselves to be deceived into thinking that Huawei’s motives are purely commercial.

The 5G network is part of the foundations of the digital future. If the federal government compromises on the network’s security, in the long run it will compromise not only this country’s working environment, but also the privacy of its citizens. In the United Kingdom, government security experts concluded last year that the use of Huawei components in telecommunications infrastructure could pose risks to UK national security. Australia has already banned Huawei from providing 5G equipment out of fear the Chinese regime might one day shut down power grids and other networks.

I grew up in Hong Kong, so I know how naive it would be to trust the Chinese state to keep its word when it promises not to abuse 5G as a political tool. Hong Kong is the West Berlin in the new cold war, a small bastion of freedom in the grip of a totalitarian regime.

We know the reality behind the facade of the Chinese state. When China signed the agreement with Britain in 1984 regulating the handover of its former colony, it was agreed that the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong would be upheld for 50 years. This didn’t happen. On the contrary, in the last 10 years, the people of Hong Kong have seen our rights systematically undermined. Why, Dear Germans, do you still believe you can trust Beijing?