The UK government has ordered telecom businesses to remove all Huawei equipment from the the government’s 5G networks by 2027, triggering a renewed clash with Beijing.
According to a new report from the New York Times, the UK said Tuesday that it will no longer allow Chinese tech company Huawei to access its 5G network amid growing pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take a stand against Beijing.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told members of Parliament that “from the end of this year telecoms operators must not buy any 5G equipment from Huawei.” Huawei 5G equipment that has already been installed in the UK will have to be removed by 2027.
Dowden said the decision — which is largely the result of U.S. sanctions on Huawei’s supply chain — would mean a delay to the UK’s 5G rollout of between two and three year, plus additional costs of up to $2.5 billion USD. “This has not been an easy decision but it is the right one,” he said.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement Huawei’s UK chairman John Browne, the former BP chief executive and a member of the House of Lords, announced that he would be leaving his post.
The decision is one of the multiple signs of growing unease in Europe about China’s actions, including the imposition of national security law in Hong Kong and its initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The US has already blocked the company from using American technology in its microchips – a decision that prompted the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre to conclude that Huawei would have to use potentially insecure technology and the resulting security risks would be impossible to control.
“What we want is a modern and mature relationship with China based on mutual respect where we are able to speak frankly when we disagree, but also to work side by side with China on issues where our interests converge,” Dowden said.
“Today’s decision, however, is about ensuring the long term security of our telecoms networks specifically in the light of those US sanctions,” Dowden added. “We have never, and will never, compromise that security in pursuit of economic prosperity.”