The Huawei Dilemma: A Content Analysis of German Media in Evaluating Germany's China Policy
Noah Patrick Lenhardt
North Carolina State University, US
Noah Lenhardt is a senior at North Carolina State University where he is studying Political Science and History with a minor in German Studies. During his undergraduate career, Noah has been a research assistant working on development finance, infrastructure investment, and global governance issues, particularly regarding China and their Belt and Road Initiative. Noah’s research interests focus on perception and identity as it relates to international relations and foreign policy making. Recently, Noah became one of North Carolina State’s nominees for the Marshall Scholarship, and following graduation he hopes to attend graduate school to more fully understand the intersection between people, identity, and foreign policy.
This paper investigates the dilemma that Germany finds themselves in vis-à-vis China and Huawei 5G development, and whether the German government’s China policy is adept enough to reconcile differences domestically. This research uses a case study methodology to examine Huawei 5G development in Germany, and a content analysis of six national German news publications to gauge reactions to both Huawei and China, and the German government’s response. An analysis of fifty news articles across the political spectrum from 2018-2020 reveals a public sentiment that is out of line with Germany’s tentative decision to, in essence, allow Huawei involvement in their 5G network. A majority of articles surveyed had a negative stance towards Huawei, with concerns divided up into 4 categories (security, human rights, geopolitical, and economically or technologically dependent). A staggering zero were solely positive towards the
company’s potential involvement in building network infrastructure. In addition, an interesting finding is a general dislike of the United States’ and their involvement in the 5G issue. These articles shed light on the vast amount of disagreement between the public, the media, and the government on the country's China policy. Gaining a greater understanding of domestic restraints in crafting foreign policy, as well as Germany’s specific China policy, is useful in improving policy making, bettering the US’s relationship with Germany, and combating China’s rise.