US and UK Announce Partnership on 5G After Huawei Ban

July 17, 2020 Updated: July 17, 2020

The United States and the UK are going to team up on developing solutions for the next-generation wireless technology, after the latter’s recent decision to purge equipment made by Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G rollout.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on July 16 the UK’s decision to “prevent the use of unsecure technology in its 5G networks,” according to a brief statement issued by the State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

The British decision to ban Huawei was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday, when he ordered that the Chinese company’s equipment be removed from Britain’s 5G networks by the end of 2027.

The UK government allowed Huawei to build “non-core” parts of its 5G network in April 2019.

The restriction was expanded in January this year, when the UK government limited Huawei to supply 35 percent of the non-core 5G network.

Prior to the 2027 deadline, British telecommunication companies will also be prohibited from buying Huawei equipment from the end of 2020 and thereafter.

“The Secretary and Foreign Secretary agreed to work together to promote the development of additional trusted 5G solutions,” Ortagus stated. The statement did not provide any other details.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that he was responsible for Johnson’s decision to ban Huawei.

“We convinced many countries, many countries—I did this myself for the most part—not to use Huawei, because we think it’s an unsafe security risk, it’s a big security risk,” Trump said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China will “take all necessary measures” in response to the British decision, while accusing the British government of “discriminating” against a Chinese company, at a daily briefing on Wednesday.

Chinese state-run media Global Times published an opinion article on Thursday, in which it listed several possible countermeasures that China could take against the UK. Among the measures suggested was China’s state-run companies could sell off their British assets.

The U.S. government has already banned Huawei from the country’s 5G networks over security concerns.

The UK’s decision has since been welcomed by many lawmakers in both the United States and Britain.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in a press release issued on Tuesday, said: “The Chinese Communist Party’s determination to control the future of 5G through their proxy company Huawei poses a significant threat. No country’s data is safe if Huawei or any CCP-linked company has control over it.”

McCaul concluded: “I strongly encourage all European and other countries to follow the UK’s lead.”

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) also released a press statement on Tuesday, saying he was relieved to hear the decision.

“As China continues to make clear its malign international intentions, I am heartened by the determination of Western allies to face these new challenges in a clear-eyed, unified manner,” Risch said.

British MP Tom Tugendhat took to his Twitter account to say: “Our China strategy needs to be about more than Huawei but the decision to ban them from 5G is an important start.”

Another British MP Bob Seely penned an article on online magazine Spectator, warning that “Huawei is down, but it is not out.”

“The worst-case scenario is that Huawei will sell as many kits as they can in the next six months in the UK and then seek to overturn the ban after the next election on grounds of cost; convenience, geopolitics,” Seely wrote.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer