UK says it will make its own decision on 5G and Huawei

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump has effectively blacklisted Huawei in the U.S. by legislating to block transactions with American firms that "poses an unacceptable risk to the national security."
  • Huawei was not singled out but the move is widely seen as being aimed at the Chinese telecom equipment maker.
  • The U.K. has said it will conduct its own review and not necessarily follow the U.S. lead.
UK will make its own decision on 5G and Huawei, culture secretary says
UK will make its own decision on 5G and Huawei, culture secretary says

The U.K. government said it will make its own decision as to whether to include Huawei technology as it builds out its 5G network.

The United States has asked allies to reject Huawei's infrastructure on fears it could open up avenues to Chinese spying, a claim the tech firm has repeatedly rejected. The U.S. has even blacklisted Huawei, among other firms, effectively blocking the company from sourcing components and tech from America.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement Wednesday that the move aimed to protect U.S. technology from "foreign-owned entities" that could undermine national security. In response, Huawei said that it is willing to work with U.S. officials to ensure product security.

Why the US thinks Huawei has been a massive national security threat for years
Why the US thinks Huawei is a massive national security threat

On Thursday, the U.K.'s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright, told CNBC's Karen Tso that Britain would decide on Huawei equipment after its own review.

"The United States has to make its own decisions. We need to make ours," he said, before adding: "The view that we've taken is that it is more sensible to do a properly-based review of the security of the whole telecoms supply chain."

Currently, there is no Huawei equipment within the U.K.'s critical defense networks but Britain has included the firm's non-core equipment in other IT systems.

Wright said a review of Britain's 5G policy and the equipment it uses is continuing, but it would be conducted as a broader review.

"I think this is important to do that without focusing on one sole company or one sole country. This is about the whole supply chain."

A former MI6 spy chief said Thursday that Britain should rethink any decision to include Huawei equipment, arguing that the control of data "will be a route to exercise power over societies and other nations."

In a foreword to a report on the Chinese tech firm by the Henry Jackson Society, Richard Dearlove added that he hoped there was "time for the U.K. government, and the probability as I write of a new prime minister, to reconsider the Huawei decision."

Huawei has repeatedly denied that it would engage in any form of spying or provide data to the Chinese government. Experts have been skeptical about Huawei's assurances that it isn't a security risk, pointing to Chinese laws that allegedly mean every domestic company is legally mandated to assist the country in intelligence gathering if Beijing requests it.