The UK Government has admitted privately to Huawei that its decision to ban the company’s equipment was due to ‘geopolitical’ factors involving the US.
According to reports in the Observer, Ministers indicated that “enormous pressure” from the Trump administration was to blame and hinted that the decision may be reversed in future if relations between the United States and China improve.
On 14th July, the government announced it will ban Huawei equipment from being used in all future 5G networks in Britain by 2027. Under the new rules, all companies currently using their hardware must also remove it by the deadline.
Ministers said they were placing national security as a top priority in their decision, which is at odds with their private discussions with Huawei executives.
The Trump administration has been vocal of its opposition to Huawei and its potential ties to the Chinese regime, and Trump himself seemed to indicate on Tuesday that Britain’s Huawei decision had been due to his actions – a claim which health secretary Matt Hancock denied.
Huawei has repeatedly denied claims that it has deeper ties with the Chinese government, stating that they are a privately held company and that their relationship was no different than any other private company in China.
The National Cyber Security Centre has reviewed the consequences of the US’s actions.
“The NCSC has now reported to ministers that they have significantly changed their security assessment of Huawei’s presence in the UK 5G network.”
In the House of Commons last week, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Oliver Dowden, announced:
“Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei’s supply chain, the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment affected by the change in the US foreign direct product rules.”
The decision to remove Huawei from the network could set the UK back two-to-three years in terms of 5G rollout across the country if the government needs to look for a replacement.
Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK, commented:
“This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”