US Huawei Restrictions Are Encouraging British Lawmakers

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British officials are considering legislation that would restrict wireless carriers from purchasing Huawei's equipment

The newest US restrictions on China's Huawei Technologies Co. have inspired British officials to consider similar efforts, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As soon as the end of June, British officials are considering advising wireless carriers to reduce or discontinue business with Huawei. However, these recommendations wouldn't be binding until the British government passed legislation. This would be a huge change for the UK. A few months ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wasn't responding to pressure from the US to stop business with Huawei.

In May, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on Huawei that restricted global suppliers from selling Huawei chips that were produced using US tools. US officials see Huawei as a threat due to the company's connection with the communist party in Beijing and the possibility of sabotage or espionage.

“Huawei is on notice that we will not tolerate the use of U.S. technologies for malign activities contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. Huawei and Beijing have stated that they would never partake in these acts. Following the announcement, China's foreign ministry stated that the US should immediately halt “its unreasonable suppression against Huawei.”

US officials have threatened to stop sharing intelligence with allies using Huawei's equipment. However, UK officials believe that getting the necessary equipment for 5G capabilities is the top priority. The UK announced early in 2020, that carriers could use Huawei to some extent. Huawei equipment could not be the foundation of 5G networks. This was supposed to appeal to China and the US. “That was supposed to put the issue to bed, and it clearly hasn’t,” said Emily Taylor, chief executive of U.K. cyberintelligence firm Oxford Information Labs and a researcher into 5G network security.

With the new US restrictions on computer chips, British officials are concerned that the alternative chips will be less reliable and pose more of a security risk. Huawei has a significant presence in the UK and Victor Zhang, head of Huawei’s U.K. operations, said the company would be willing to work with the British government to address “any concerns they may have and to continue the working relationship we have had for the last 10 years.”

Last week, Britain's National Cyber Security Centre held an online meeting with wireless carriers to discuss the elimination of Huawei equipment. “The mood music has changed,” said one person from the call. “It has shifted from a security discussion to one about the viability of your suppliers.”

Huawei is starting to be recognized as a global threat.

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