The battle between the U.S. and Huawei is still ongoing, and according to recent reports, one of Washington’s closest allies has decided to allow the company’s involvement in the creation of its 5G network, despite warnings from the U.S.
As the United States attempts to convince its allies to turn against Huawei, the UK has apparently decided to allow the company’s 5G technology, even at the risk of retaliation from the U.S.
According to reports, the National Security Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May, has agreed to give Huawei limited access to help build parts of its 5-G network such as antennas and other ‘noncore’ infrastructure.
The decision to allow involvement from Huawei comes days before Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to travel to China to discuss bilateral economic and financial cooperation with Beijing at a forum for the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
But the UK could be setting itself up for backlash from the US. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that if a country adopts Huawei’s 5-G technology, it could prohibit the US from continuing to share information and work with that country.
“We will provide resources. We’ll help others understand so that they know what they’re getting into. If there are security risks associated with the procurement of some country’s goods, China’s goods, we want to make sure that our friends and allies, our NATO partners, those who are inside of the EU—we want to make sure they’re aware of those risks, and that’s our task,” Pompeo said during a speech in Slovakia.
As members of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are automatically expected to follow Washington’s lead by turning against the Chinese tech giant.
Australia was the first country to ban Huawei’s 5-G technology, and New Zealand followed suit by blocking Huawei’s involvement in its 5-G network.
While the Canadian government has yet to introduce an official ban…it did comply with the US over requests to arrest Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer in December. Canada has also agreed to move forward with the process to extradite the CFO to the United States, and the first hearing in the case is set to be held next month.
In addition to fighting the extradition case, Huawei filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization earlier this month, alleging that Australia’s ban is “obviously discriminative.”
The UK’s reported decision to give Huawei limited access to help build parts of its 5-G network has been criticized by some British officials who claim they are concerned about the security risks.
However, the UK’s Digital Minister has argued that in spite of Cabinet leaks, a final decision yet to be made on managing threats to telecoms infrastructure.
Now it remains to be seen if the UK will follow through on this reported plan, and if the US will retaliate against its close ally for refusing to follow orders.