Friday 22 January 2021
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US puts extra pressure on British to exclude Huawei from 5G network

The United States has once again made a final effort to convince the British government to ban Chinese Huawei from 5G networks. The Trump government threatens to cut off the British from US intelligence services.

The UK will decide later this month whether China's Huawei, the world's largest telecom infrastructure provider, can provide equipment and technology for 5G networks. That came up during a recent visit by British foreign minister Dominic Raab to his American counterpart Mike Pompeo.

An American delegation was scheduled to travel to the UK this week, but that was canceled, allegedly due to bad weather, but probably due to tensions between the US and Iran. It was then decided that the British minister Raab would go to Washington, and the China-5G issue was only indirectly discussed because most of the attention went to US-Iran.

After the consultation, no statements were made about Huawei-London. That may indicate that Washington and London still disagree. If there were an agreement, it would undoubtedly have been announced by Washington.

The intention of the US is to convince the British government that Huawei should not be used in 5G networks. The Americans say that Huawei can spy that way, that the company has close ties with the Chinese government and therefore carries a security risk. Huawei strongly denies that and the US has never been able to put concrete evidence on the table.

Another factor is that a British ban can cost Huawei billions of dollars and that will also affect the Chinese economy, with which the Americans are waging a trade war.

Earlier this year, British MPs concluded that there is no technical reason why Huawei should be excluded from the UK telecommunications infrastructure. It is, however, suggested that there are ethical and political reasons for a possible ban. And it seems that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come to the same position after talks between the British government and Huawei.

In addition, it is possible that Huawei would supply the equipment for the 'non-contentious' parts of the 5G infrastructure. This would mean that it could provide additional stuff, but not equipment for the core of the network where data processing takes place. Earlier the Netherlands also suggested such an 'interim solution'.

According to British victories, other suppliers cannot bieden alternatives to some technology from Huawei, which means that the United Kingdom could be left behind if the company were banned. Government officials also share the opinion that the UK has sufficient technological expertise against potential threats, and that the decision is primarily a political issue.

However, the US has a firm stick to keep the British in step. Last month, the country passed a law restricting the sharing of information with allies (such as the British) when they work with players like Huawei. That blocks the British.

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