Huawei Faces Mounting Opposition in UK as Distrust of Beijing Grows

Huawei Faces Mounting Opposition in UK as Distrust of Beijing Grows
A photograph shows the logo of Chinese company Huawei at their main UK offices in Reading, west of London, on January 28, 2020. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)
Cathy He

Voices are growing within UK’s ruling party to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei from a role in the country’s 5G network, as the government signals a tougher stance towards Beijing over its handling of the CCP virus pandemic.

The UK government in January granted Huawei a role in building non-sensitive parts of its next-generation wireless network, and capped its involvement at 35 percent. But since then, opposition from within the ruling Conservative Party has cast doubt that the measure can be approved by Parliament, Bloomberg reported.

A bill formalizing January’s decision is expected to be introduced within months.

The campaign against Huawei comes amid wider calls within the Tory Party for a reset of relations with China’s communist regime over its role in covering up the COVID-19 outbreak, which fueled the global spread of the virus.

“I think the government’s been misadvised,“ Conservative member of Parliament Owen Paterson told NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times. ”I hope that events of recent weeks would have really woken them up to the danger, of being beholden on a company ... so closely run by the Chinese communist government.”

The United States has warned the UK and other allies that Huawei’s equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage or to disrupt telecommunications networks. It cites the firm’s close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as well as Chinese law, which compels companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies when asked.

Huawei, which has denied the allegations, posted an open letter last week urging the UK to not take any steps to remove it from the nation’s 5G infrastructure.

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, also backs barring Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s networks.

“I think the mood in the parliamentary party has hardened,” Tugendhat told Bloomberg. “And I think it’s a shared realization of what it means for dependence on a business that is part of a state that does not share our values. That has become clearer.”

Former Tory leader and foreign secretary William Hague, who now sits in the House of Lords, earlier said that Britain can’t be dependent on China for technology as the recent crisis has demonstrated the ruling regime doesn’t “play by our rules.”

A UK government spokesperson told NTD that the government’s position on Huawei hasn’t changed.

Earlier this week, acting Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the country cannot return to “business as usual” with the regime after the crisis.

“We’ll have to ask the hard questions about how it came about and how it could have been stopped earlier,” Raab said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said April 17 that the Beijing regime’s failure to act appropriately during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely lead to countries rethinking whether they want their telecommunications infrastructure and 5G networks to be susceptible to control by the CCP, through Chinese companies such as Huawei.

“When Huawei comes knocking to sell them equipment and hardware, that they will have a different prism through which to view that decision,” Pompeo told Fox Business Network.

Paterson said, about the fallout from the regime’s botched management of the outbreak, “I think all of this is very much going to change the image of China, with many members of Parliament, and there will absolutely be a rethink on our relationship with China.”

Jane Werrell of NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times, contributed to this report.
Cathy He is the politics editor at the Washington D.C. bureau. She was previously an editor for U.S.-China and a reporter covering U.S.-China relations.
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