Boris Johnson is to “look again” at his decision to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to build more than a third of Britain’s 5G broadband network, amid fresh concerns by spy agencies and growing rebellion on the Conservative backbenches.
New US sanctions imposed on the firm outlaw any intellectual property from being used in the production of Huawei equipment - chips manufactured for use in Huawei products use US technology, but British spies warn future Chinese alternatives cannot be trusted, scuppering plans to use the tech in 35 percent of Britain’s new 5G network.
“We think the new sanctions slapped on Huawei by the US basically mean no US intellectual property can be used in the manufacture of Huawei’s chips. This means bits of kit they get from Taiwan and elsewhere, which we think are full of good US stuff, will be cut off from them from the autumn. They’re likely to turn to cheaper, less secure, local stuff instead. There’s next to no chance we could say it’s safe enough to use in 5G. It changes the calculation completely,” an anonymous Whitehall source told The Daily Mail.
Steve, now if you’d said:— Zero to Here...Oh (@zero_to_here_oh) May 24, 2020
1. End the Lockdown
2. Return to normal
3. Stop HS2
4. Drop Net Zero targets
5. Dump Huawei
6. Stop victimising car drivers
7. Sack Hancock & Cressida Dick
8. Remove Hate Speech laws
9. Destroy Common Purpose
Then ‘Steve Baker PM!’
But as it is... https://t.co/6DLHjYWfZk
On 19th May, Johnson held the first meeting of the National Security Council since February to discuss the reliance of British supply chains on foreign states. It was in January Huawei was granted permission by the Prime Minister to supply equipment for ‘non-core’ elements of future broadband infrastructure. There was international outcry over the decision, with US President Donald Trump threatening to ban Britain from intelligence sharing if they let the firm in.
“[Having] operated in the UK for 20 years, our priority has been to help mobile and broadband companies keep Britain connected, which is more vital than ever in this health crisis,” he added.
Nonetheless, the prospect of a Downing Street rethink has been received warmly by Conservative MPs, with Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, warning any continuing relationship with Huawei would be “extremely problematic” because the company is “actually owned by the Chinese Communist Party”.