UK Makes Big Move on Huawei After Threat From US

United Kingdom won't let telecom firm play a part in its new high-speed mobile phone network
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 14, 2020 8:19 AM CDT
UK Makes Big Move on Huawei After Threat From US
In this July 1, 2020 file photo, a man wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus looks at his smartphone as he walks past a Huawei store in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, file)

Britain's government on Tuesday backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a limited role in the UK's new high-speed mobile phone network in a decision with broad implications for relations between London and Beijing. Britain imposed the ban after the US threatened to sever an intelligence-sharing arrangement because of concerns Huawei equipment could allow the Chinese government to infiltrate UK networks, per the AP. UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden gave telecoms operators until 2027 to remove Huawei equipment already in Britain's 5G network. "This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one,'' he said, noting that from the end of this year, telecoms operators mustn't buy any 5G equipment from Huawei.

In January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to balance economic and security pressures by agreeing to give Huawei a limited role in Britain's so-called 5G network, excluding the company from core components of the system and restricting its involvement to 35% of the project. But in addition to the diplomatic clash this caused with the US, Johnson was also under pressure from rebels in his own Conservative Party, who criticized China's new Hong Kong security law and its treatment of ethnic Uighurs, as well as Huawei's links to the Chinese government. For China, it's the way Britain has handled the Huawei issue that's the major problem. "There is a sense, I suspect, in Beijing that the Huawei row has made China lose face," says Oxford history professor Rana Mitter. "And this is one of the things that clearly does not go down well with China."

(More Huawei stories.)

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