British telecoms companies will be banned from buying Huawei 5G components starting from the end of this year, the UK media secretary said. The firms also must get rid of all of their Huawei gear by 2027.
Media Secretary Oliver Dowden said that the National Cyber Security Centre informed the ministers that they have “significantly changed their assessment of Huawei’s presence in the UK’s 5G network.”
This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.
Speaking in parliament, Dowden argued that relying on a Chinese company to provide sensitive technology to the UK opened the country to great security risks. He said that the move against Huawei provides an opportunity for British firms and firms from countries like Japan and South Korea to bring in products that will serve as a replacement for Huawei.
Dowden told MPs that the government will present a bill making sure that “the flow of Huawei’s 5G equipment will have stopped.” He also admitted that the exclusion of Huawei from the UK telecoms structure will add “two to three years” to the delivery of 5G to the country.
A Huawei spokesperson said that the decision to ban the use of its equipment is “bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone,” and risks slowing down the digital innovation in the country.
US President Donald Trump’s administration blacklisted the Chinese company last year and has been increasingly pressuring American allies in Europe, including Britain and Germany, to do the same. In February, US Vice President Mike Pence said that the UK’s position on Huawei remained “a real issue” between the countries, and even hinted that Britain’s refusal to ban Huawei could be a “deal breaker” in future trade talks.
US officials argued that Beijing can use Huawei for surveillance and espionage on Americans. Both Huawei and the Chinese government denied these allegations.