In a momentous decision British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to ban China’s Huawei from Britain’s 5G network on Tuesday.
The development comes at a time when the Chinese company is facing heightened scrutiny over allegations that it can hand over sensitive data to Chinese intelligence following Beijing’s enacting a National Intelligence Law which mandates that Chinese intelligence “may ask relevant institutions, organizations and citizens to provide necessary support, assistance and cooperation.”
The United States has highlighted the risks associated with allowing Chinese companies into core infrastructural facilities, including 5G, given the huge national security risks associated with such partnerships.
The move comes at a time when Beijing has pushed back on the origin of the Wuhan coronavirus and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, damaging relations between London and Beijing.
Britain’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, is scheduled to meet this morning to discuss Huawei. Media Secretary Oliver Dowden will then announce a decision to the House of Commons later today.
An immediate reason to bar the Chinese company is its ability to remain as a stable supplier of chips given U.S. sanctions.
Huawei’s customers, including Vodafone, BT, and Three, are waiting to gauge how extensive the new ban will be and how quickly it will have to be implemented.
While hundreds of millions of pounds are riding on the outcome, it is difficult to place a price on national security.
On Monday, BT’s CEO Philip Jansen had said, the company would need at least five years, ideally seven, to remove Huawei from its networks.
“If we get to a situation where things need to go very, very fast, then you are into a situation where potentially service for 24 million BT Group mobile customers is put into question – outages,” said Jansen.
China has threatened retaliation against banning Huawei saying, doing so would have far-reaching ramifications.
China’s ambassador stated, Britain would “bear the consequences” if it treated China as a hostile country.