UK Decision on Huawei Not Set in Stone, British Minister Says

July 6, 2020 Updated: July 7, 2020

LONDON—Britain’s decision to allow China’s Huawei to play a limited role in building its 5G network is not “fixed in stone” and is being reviewed following the imposition of U.S. sanctions, culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Monday.

Britain granted Huawei a limited role in its future 5G networks in January, but officials at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have since studied the impact of the U.S. measures that were announced in May.

Dowden told Sky News the sanctions, designed to restrict the ability of Huawei to source advanced microchips for 5G equipment, is likely to have a significant impact on the reliability of the supplier.

“It is not fixed in stone, we constantly review our security to ensure we have the best possible security for our telecoms network,” he said.

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A photograph shows the logo of Chinese company Huawei at their main UK offices in Reading, west of London, on Jan. 28, 2020. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)

Dowden declined to comment on reports that officials were drawing up proposals to stop installing Huawei equipment and said any decision would be announced in parliament.

“If the U.S. impose sanctions, which they have done, we believe that could have a significant impact on the reliability of Huawei equipment and whether we can use it safely,” he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially favoured a limited role for Huawei in the 5G network, but his stance has hardened due to U.S. pressure and opposition from backbench Tory MPs.

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, UK, on June 23, 2020. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Johnson told the Evening Standard on July 2 that he would proceed carefully on making a decision on Huawei, because the government did not want any critical infrastructure to be controlled by “potentially hostile state vendors.”

According to a recent poll commissioned by the ruling Conservative Party’s China Research Group, 49 percent of British voters opposed allowing Huawei to supply sensitive parts to Britain’s 5G network, with only 17 percent holding the opposite view.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.