According to a report published by the Observer, the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturing giant Huawei has been privately told by the British government that it was being banned from 5G telecom networks in the country because of “geopolitical” reasons after being exposed to intense pressure from United States President Donald Trump.
The report claimed that there as intensive discussions and confidential communications undertaken between the government and Whitehall officials on one side and Huawei executives on the other days before the British government made the controversial announcement on Tuesday last week.
The fact that geopolitics had played a part in the decision was communicated to Huawei in the high-level behind-the-scenes discussions and an impression as given that it would be possible to reverse the decision in the future, potentially if Trump is not elected as US president for a second term and the tensions between China and the US recedes.
In public comments made since the announcement of the British government, Huawei officials have said that they hoped that a rethinking of the decision will be made by the British government, encouraged potentially by the outcomes of the behind the scene talks with the British government representatives.
Officially last week, the government had said that new security concerns raised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ resulted in the government taking the decision to ban Huawei from the country’s 5G networks.
The balance of security risk had been changed because of new sanctions imposed by the US against Huawei which effectively prevented the sale of US-produced components to Huawei- which meant that the Chinese firm will need to source such components from somewhere else, said Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, in the House of Commons.
“The new US measures restrict Huawei’s ability to produce important products using US technology or software,” he said. “The National Cyber Security Centre has reviewed the consequences of the US’s actions …
“The NCSC has now reported to ministers that they have significantly changed their security assessment of Huawei’s presence in the UK 5G network. Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei’s supply chain, the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment affected by the change in the US foreign direct product rules.”
The decision taken against Huawei last week by the British government was in complete opposition to an announcement made in January when the government had said that the Chinese firm would be allowed to supply equipment for British 5G networks but on a restricted basis.
But last week’s decision by the government has also drawn criticisms of the UK government putting its loyalty to Trump – who currently is engaged in a diplomatic war against China over coronavirus, human rights, trade, its stance on Hong Kong, and Huawei, prior to the presidential elections in the US in November. In the process the UK government had ignored it commitment to the UK of putting it in front line of global technological advances.
Soon after the latest decision on Huawei by the British government, Trump claimed credit for the decision in a press conference at the White House on Tuesday. “I did this myself, for the most part”, he said and added that he was trying to convince other countries not to use Huawei.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)