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UK Likely to Backtrack on Huawei Inclusion in 5G

UK Likely to Backtrack on Huawei Inclusion in 5G

Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 - 08:00
FILE PHOTO: People walk past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2016 in Shanghai, China May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat

The British government is reportedly poised to backtrack on plans to give Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei a limited role in the UK‘s new high-speed mobile phone network, a decision with broad implications for relations between the two countries.

Britain’s decision to re-examine the question, the results of which will be announced Tuesday, came after the US threatened to sever an intelligence-sharing arrangement because of concerns Huawei equipment could allow the Beijing government to infiltrate UK networks, the Associated Press reported.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also under pressure from rebels in his own Conservative Party who criticize China’s new Hong Kong security law and its treatment of ethnic Uighurs, as well as Huawei’s links to the Chinese government. Ten Conservative lawmakers sent a letter to Johnson demanding that he remove Huawei from “the UK’s critical national infrastructure.”

“Everybody has advocated engagement for years and years and years, but it’s become apparent that we’ve been mugged by China,” Neil O’Brien, a Conservative member of Parliament and secretary of the party’s China Research Group, told the BBC Monday night.

“We’ve tried to be nice and they’ve just become more and more aggressive.”

Johnson in January 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 overall project.

But the move set up a diplomatic clash with the US, which threatened to cut off security cooperation unless Britain dumped Huawei.

Amid continued pressure to remove Huawei from communication networks entirely, the US in May imposed new sanctions that will bar companies around the world from using US-made machinery or software to produce chips for the Chinese company.

The back and forth has put Huawei at the vortex of tensions between China and Britain.

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