- The UK will ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from providing crucial parts of its 5G network, but will allow it to supply "non-core" equipment, according to The Daily Telegraph.
- Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly gave the order on Tuesday, although other ministers pushed for a complete ban on Huawei kit.
- Huawei has been in a dogfight with the US over supplying next-generation 5G equipment, as the Trump administration has been lobbying allied countries to freeze Huawei out on security grounds.
- The prime minister’s decision comes two months before President Trump’s state visit to the UK and may be a point of contention between the two leaders.
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Prime Minister Theresa May will allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to supply equipment for the UK’s upcoming 5G mobile network but will block it from providing "core" infrastructure, The Daily Telegraph first reported.
May reportedly gave the order after a meeting with ministers on the UK’s National Security Council, although sources told The Guardian that some of the ministers present had pushed for a comprehensive ban on Huawei equipment.
A government spokesman said it would formally announce the decision on Huawei in due course.
May’s reported decision flies in the face of American pressure on allies to bar Huawei equipment completely from their next-generation 5G networks on the grounds the company may enable the Chinese government to spy.
The US has exerted considerable political pressure on its allies to reject Huawei’s 5G network equipment, arguing that the Chinese tech company could act as a backdoor through which the Chinese can spy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a warning to allied countries in February, saying it be "more difficult" for the US to partner with nations which allowed Huawei kit to be integrated into their networks.
May’s decision comes just two months before President Trump’s planned state visit to the UK in July, and risks creating political tensions.
Huawei has stolidly opposed the notion that it’s a proxy for the Chinese government, with CEO Ren Zhengfei saying in March that he would sooner shut down the company than let it be used for espionage.
The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
The UK previously said it would be able to "mitigate" any security risks posed by Huawei’s kit, although in February head of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming warned that the UK must be wary of the risks posed by Chinese firms.
Speaking to BBC Panorama earlier this month, technical director of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre Dr Ian Levy said that his review of Huawei led him to conclude that its security risks were more to do with shoddy engineering than state interference.
Digital Minister Margot James applauded May’s decision on Twitter, saying she was right to act on the advice that the UK can minimise the risk.
A government spokesman said: "National Security Council discussions are confidential. Decisions from those meetings are made and announced at the appropriate time through the established processes. The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance.
"As part of our plans to provide world class digital connectivity, including 5G, we have conducted an evidence based review of the supply chain to ensure a diverse and secure supply base, now and into the future. This is a thorough review into a complex area and will report with its conclusions in due course."
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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