Experts Say Transatlantic Partnership is Essential to Secure Supply Chain for 5G Networks

Experts are calling for a transatlantic partnership to protect 5G infrastructure internationally.

Experts Say Transatlantic Partnership is Essential to Secure Supply Chain for 5G Networks
Photo of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, at a press conference in 2011, used with permission.

June 17, 2021—A transatlantic partnership is a national security imperative for securing 5G infrastructure, policy makers from the U.S. and Germany said Wednesday at a conference hosted by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.

“We need to come up with ways to ensure that our joint supply chains are resilient,” said Stephen Anderson, acting deputy assistant secretary for the International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State. “The important thing is that we work together in order to ensure that we have resilient supply chains rooted in trusted vendors, trusted partners, in the United States and Europe.”

Anderson accused China of attempting to undercut the U.S.’s technological advantage and displacing the U.S.’s vision of preserving human rights and privacy with their own authoritarian goals.

An executive order signed by President Joe Biden in early June alleging Chinese surveillance technology is employed both inside and out of the country “constitute[s] unusual and extraordinary threats.” The order bans domestic investment in 59 Chinese companies that have been linked to China’s surveillance industry, including China Mobile, China Telecommunications, China Unicom, and Huawei.

Anderson said that if the basic infrastructure supplying 5G networks are not built with trusted vendors, Western nations will not be able to ensure cybersecurity throughout the various levels of the internet.

Policy Proposal for a Transatlantic Partnership

In May, legislation was reintroduced in Congress to increase funding for 5G telecommunications infrastructure development projects in Eastern Europe. The bipartisan Transatlantic Telecommunications Security Act would authorize the U.S. Development Finance Corporation to provide funding for 5G network development to European allies.

Sponsors of the bill say the legislation aims to strengthen foreign vulnerable infrastructures against “malign Chinese influence.”

Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, said in a press release in May the bill seeks to ensure that the U.S. “is leading with our European allies to develop international 5G standards that favor democratic institutions, not further authoritarianism spread by China.”

“The United States and our allies are facing increasing threats from state-linked companies in China as they seek to infiltrate and undermine democratic institutions,” said Kaptur.

On Tuesday, the U.S. and the European Union announced the creation of the Trade and Technology Council, a tool used to combat China’s rising economy.

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