The UK has announced a ban on Huawei 5G equipment, citing security concerns due to Huawei’s close connection with the Chinese government. The ban disallows the purchase of new Huawei equipment after December 31, 2020, and seeks to completely remove the equipment from UK networks by 2027.
Oliver Dowden, UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the decision, announced Tuesday, was guided by “updated technical advice from our cyber experts.” The updated technical advice flowed from a National Cyber Security Centre review, which was triggered by US sanctions. The review warned of security and reliability concerns in the wake of US sanctions, as the sanctions affect Huawei’s supply chain.
The US banned Huawei last year, calling them a national security risk. Additionally, the US government issued federal indictments against them for racketeering, conspiracy to steal trade secrets, bank fraud and wire fraud. Ultimately, the US imposed sanctions against Huawei in May.
Dowden further stated the ban will delay the rollout of the nationwide 5G network by at least a year. Huawei is the world’s largest creator of telecommunications equipment, and The New York Times is calling the dispute “an early front in a new tech cold war.”
In response to the ban, Chinese spokesperson Hua Chunying relayed how the UK ban “eroded mutual trust underpinning China-UK cooperation.” Additionally, spokesperson Zhao Lijian offered a reminder that the ban comes amidst the uncertainty of Brexit. “Whether the UK will provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese businesses offers a telling clue to how the post-Brexit British market will perform and how secure China’s investment will be in that country,” Lijian said.
Shortly after the UK announced the ban, the US announced visa restrictions against “certain employees of Chinese technology companies that abuse human rights.”