UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signaled that he shares US security concerns over involving the Chinese firm telecom Huawei in Britain’s 5G network, according to The Guardian.
His statement suggests he could move to exclude the company from a role in building the network, in the clearest indication yet of his stance on the issue, following many months of deliberation by UK authorities.
“I don’t want this country to be hostile to investment from overseas. On the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests nor can we prejudice our ability to cooperate with other Five Eyes security partners [including the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia]. That will be the key criterion that informs our decision about Huawei,” he said at a meeting of NATO leaders in Watford.
While he didn’t cite the influence of Donald Trump, even when asked directly, the US president has been pressuring allies to limit their involvement with Huawei. The Chinese company has denied Washington’s allegations that it could help spy for the Chinese government, and argued that the US has failed to produce any evidence for the claims.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May had ordered a review of security concerns, and was reportedly leaning toward allowing Huawei’s involvement. Authorities have suggested Huawei equipment may be permitted in “non-core” parts of the network, and it’s been included in early 5G networks from all four providers in Britain. A final decision has now been postponed until after the upcoming general election.
Earlier this week, a White House spokesperson said Trump and Johnson discussed “the importance of both nations working together to ensure the security of our telecommunication networks and guard against untrusted providers” in a Downing Street meeting.
At the NATO meeting, Trump said a number of other countries, such as Italy, had agreed not to work with Huawei in their 5G networks. Italy’s prime mister, Giuseppe Conte, later claimed that the issue hadn’t been addressed.
In a statement, a Huawei spokesperson said:
“We’re confident the UK government will continue to take an objective, evidence-based approach to cyber security. Our customers trust us because we supply the kind of secure, resilient systems called for by the NATO Declaration and will continue working with them to build innovative new networks.”
Photo by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]