Britain Bans Huawei Equipment from 5G Network Amid Rising Political Tensions

Amy Dong

On July 14, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the decision to ban the purchase of Huawei equipment from its 5G wireless network project. The ban comes amid political pressure from the Trump administration and domestic concern over security.

Huawei’s political relationship with China has caused the equipment to be labeled by critics as a security threat, likely leading to Britain’s decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the U.K.’s telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” stated Oliver Dowden, the government minister in charge of telecommunications. Britain will ban the purchase of any Huawei equipment for the 5G network after December 2020, and that existing equipment already in use inside the network will be removed by 2027.

This newly enacted ban overturned a previous announcement by Johnson in January, which had allowed Huawei limited access to the 5G network, as well as acts against a previously warm relationship between Britain and Huawei. Britain has had a history of good partnership with the company, being the first country to give Huawei a stake in the European market. Likewise, Huawei has reprocaited these actions, sponsoring research and charities within the UK, as well as the financing of a new research center in Cambridge.

However, in light of the Hong Kong protests concerning Beijing’s decision to tighten legislation on the city, Western countries have faced a growing pressure to confront China. The Trump administration’s ruling in May, intending to block Huawei’s supply chain from using American software, has exacerbated this pressure on Britain, especially in consideration of the UK’s relation with Huawei.

This ban will delay the completion of the 5G project by a significant amount, and may cost the country more than two billion pounds. “It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane,” said Ed Brewster, a spokesman for Huawei U.K. “Regrettably our future in the U.K. has become politicized; this is about U.S. trade policy and not security.”

Huawei has been an important manufacturer of mobile equipment, and has played a major role in constructing networks used by the new 5G wireless systems. 5G networks, or fifth generation mobile networks, is the newest technological standard for cellular networks, and promises not only faster connection and download speeds, but also important commercial applications.

The ban has been announced to take effect after December 2020, and will apply to consumer products or equipment made by Huawei that have been used in previous networks.


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