LONDON – Britain was on Tuesday (Jan 28) to approve a role for China’s Huawei in developing its 5G telecoms network, but in a limited capacity after heavy US opposition on security grounds, reports said.
“The UK has a momentous decision ahead on 5G,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Sunday as Washington continued to heap pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson up to the last minute in urging a complete sidelining of Huawei.
However, a senior UK official last week strongly hinted at a green light for Huawei, while the Financial Times over the weekend reported that Mr Johnson was on Tuesday “expected to approve a restricted role”.
The business daily said UK ministers were looking to impose a cap on Huawei’s market share in the project.
There has meanwhile been widespread speculation that Britain would allow Huawei into “non-core” elements of 5G networks, such as antennae and base stations attached to masts and roofs.
The United States has banned Huawei from the rollout of its next generation 5G mobile networks because of concerns – strongly denied – that the firm could be under the control of Beijing.
Washington has been lobbying Britain to do the same, even threatening to limit intelligence sharing between the two allies should the UK go its own way.
There are suggestions also that a possible harming of relations between London and Washington over Huawei could affect Britain’s chances of securing a favourable US trade deal following Brexit.
Britain, which finally departs the European Union on Friday, has moved to downplay US security fears.
The UK official pointed out that unlike the United States, Britain has been using Huawei technology in its systems for the past 15 years.
UK security agencies believe they have managed the risk so far and will be able to do so with the 5G network.
The 5G technology offers almost instantaneous data transfer and is seen as key for technologies such as self-driving cars and remotely operated factory robots.