The UK on Tuesday (July 14) banned Chinese giant Huawei from its 5G telecom network, bowing to mounting US pressure, despite Beijing’s retaliation warnings.
It reversed an earlier decision to allow the Chinese tech giant a limited role in building the country’s super-fast wireless infrastructure.
The policy reversal is a big win for the Trump administration, which has been pushing allies to exclude Huawei from their 5G networks.
Huawei will be completely removed from the UK’s 5G networks by the end of 2027, the government announced after a review by the country’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the impact of US sanctions against the Chinese telecommunications company.
There will be a total ban on the purchase of any new Huawei 5G kit after December 31, 2020 and stripping out the existing kits will be done in a phased manner by 2027.
The decision was taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a meeting of the UK’s National Security Council (NSC). This was in response to new US sanctions against the telecom major imposed in May, which removed the firm’s access to products which were built based on US semiconductor technology.
The move threatens Britain’s relationship with China and spelled trouble and cost for UK mobile providers who depended hugely on Huawei equipment for nearly 20 years.
UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden said that “5G will be transformative for our country only if we have confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure it is built upon.”
He further stated that it was necessary to ban Huawei 5G networks based on advice from UK cyber experts who said that Huawei will need to do a major reconfiguration of its supply chain without access to US technology.
The minister said the government will now seek to legislate with a new Telecoms Security Bill to put in place the powers necessary to implement the tough new telecoms security framework.
The UK last reviewed Huawei’s role in its telecom infrastructure in January, when it was decided to let the firm remain a supplier but introduced a cap on its market share.
The new law will give the government the national security powers to impose these new controls on high risk vendors and create extensive security duties on network operators to drive up standards, DCMS said.
They found the new restrictions make it impossible to continue to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment in the future.
It stressed that its new policy in relation to high risk vendors has not been designed around one company, one country or one threat but as an enduring and flexible policy that will enable the UK to manage the risks to the network.
Huawei issued a statement saying that the decision was disappointing and it would affect anyone in UK with a mobile phone. “It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”
They asserted that the US sanctions will not affect the security of the products they supply to UK. Huawei said its future in the UK has become “politicised.”
“This is about US trade policy and not security,” the statement said.
According to analysts in Beijing, the UKs decision came as a shock for Huawei, which was hoping that Britain would not be influenced by the US campaign to ban it.
But the Chinese governments decision to go ahead with the implementation of its controversial national security law in the former British colony Hong Kong fuelled resentment against Beijing in the UK and prompted Prime Minister Johnson to act against Huawei, they opined.