Britain disagrees with the United States on the Huawei security risk on UK 5G network indicating that the it had already assessed the Huawei security risks. The UK government indicated that the risks involved in the use of the Chinese-manufacturer’s equipment was “manageable.”
Huawei equipment use on UK 5G network
Theresa May indicated it was acceptable to use Huawei in some “non-core” parts of the 5G network such as mobile 5G mobile phone masts and antennas. Similarly, the British prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK citizens had a right to the best possible technology and urged the U.S. to provide alternatives to Huawei technology. The British cabinet committee voted in favor of using Huawei technology in the UK 5G network. Some companies have already installed the telecommunications equipment and a ban would lead to delays in completion of the UK 5G network as well as losses amounting to millions of pounds. UK companies recognize Huawei technology as cheaper and more advanced than that of other providers. The prime minister indicated he would allow Huawei to supply equipment for the 5G network. Huawei is already among other three companies supplying 5G equipment to Vodafone, BT and other mobile phone companies for high-speed 5G networks. The others are the Swedish Ericsson and Nokia from Finland.
Response from the United States
The United States delegation led by Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger termed the possible use of the Chinese equipment in UK 5G network as “nothing short of madness.” They further indicated that doing so would jeopardize the trans-Atlantic relations and the information sharing with the country. The negotiators specified that the United States government could review intelligence sharing relationship with the UK government in future because the use of Huawei 5G equipment on UK 5G network posed risks to the process. An official from the delegation said the Congress had already requested for an evaluation of the process. Another member said that the Trump administration did not wish for a fall out over the use of Huawei technology in the UK 5G network. However, he indicated that President Donald Trump was closely watching the situation. The decision to use the controversial equipment would also indicate the willingness of the British government to pursue future trade deals with the U.S. after the country leaves the European Union. The United States has threatened to take drastic actions against governments that include the Chinese firm’s equipment in their 5G networks.
It is possible that the United States would use these trade deal negotiations to pressure the British government to abandon the use of Huawei technology in the UK 5G network. Other members have already banned Huawei and it would be just a matter of time for Britain to follow the suit.
U.S. government’s claims of Huawei security risks
The United States has consistently accused Huawei of being complicit in the surveillance activities of the Chinese communist government. And suggested Huawei security risks to include sharing data with the government and possibility of mass surveillance via Huawei kit that exploits software vulnerabilities.
Among the many other possible Huawei security risks the U.S. government pointed out is the close relationship between the employees of the Chinese firm with the Chinese military or intelligence agencies according to their CVs posted online. The U.S. government has also claimed that Huawei took part in the creation of the re-education camps used in the oppression of the Muslim Uighur minorities. American government officials also pointed out the risks associated with 5G networks are still unclear and it is preferable to keep the Chinese firm away altogether.
UK rebuttal of Huawei security risks
UK officials have indicated that there is no new evidence of Huawei security risks that the UK government was not aware of. This is after the Financial Times reported the U.S. had given the UK government a dossier of new technical evidence of Huawei security risks. Some accuse the United States of trying to undermine the Chinese firm for economic purposes.
Huawei response to the accusations
Huawei has vehemently denied the claims of being complicit in the Chinese government surveillance program. The Chinese firm has offered to ratify a “no spy agreement” with various government as a guarantee of security. The company denies the possibility of the Chinese government using its 5G equipment for surveillance through the introduction of backdoors. The spokesperson for the company indicated the United States also has employees with previous links to intelligence agencies.