Reports over the weekend confirm that Britain is prepared to defy the US, with the UK government explaining that it simply isn’t affordable to exclude the Chinese tech giant in its 5G networks.
A Downing Street source explained that “The market conditions are not the same in the US and UK”, essentially confirming that the UK can’t afford to tear out and replace Huawei equipment for 5G.
This, however, could damage Britain’s relationship with the US significantly.
Pick Huawei for 5G and US will act
Senator Tom Cotton is a leading US politician, and has warned Britain of the mistake it could potentially make in allowing Huawei access to its networks.
“In choosing Huawei, Downing Street would grant the Chinese Communist Party the ability to conduct pervasive espionage and provide Beijing with long-term economic and political leverage over the UK,” Cotton said. “In these circumstances, the US would also review any planned trade arrangements with the UK.
“I strongly urge the UK to join the US, Australia, Japan and others in barring Huawei from all our shores.”
These comments reveal that the US would certainly review its relationship with the UK if Huawei were to be involved in the country’s next-generation network roll-out. Whilst this would be a negative outcome for the UK, it will mean that 5G isn’t delayed, and remains affordable.
Having said this, an industry expert warns of security consequences in choosing Huawei, telling the UK’s Daily Express newspaper that “should the Chinese government instruct it to use Britain’s network for data harvesting or industrial espionage, it might be powerless to resist such demands”.
According to a Downing Street source, Boris Johnson had another phone call with Donald Trump on Friday, where Huawei was a key topic of discussion.