China’s ambassador to the UK has branded the British government’s decision to exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from involvement in the UK’s future 5G network as “disappointing and wrong.”
In a tweet, Liu Xiaoming stated: “It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.”
UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced the decision in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Telecoms operators must remove Huawei equipment by 2027 and will be banned from buying Huawei equipment by the end of the year.
The ban on Huawei will delay the rollout of the 5G network by two to three years and will add a cost of up to £2 billion (€2.2 billion).
Dowden said the National Cyber Security Centre changed their risk assessment after the United States placed sanctions on the Chinese technology giant.
“Given the uncertainty that [sanctions create] around Huawei’s supply chain, the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment,” Dowden said.
American officials had warned their UK counterparts of security concerns surrounding the Chinese company. The US government issued new sanctions on the tech company in May, banning them from using American software.
The decision announced Tuesday represents a U-turn for the British government which had previously decided to allow Huawei to access parts of the planned new 5G network.
UK government is ‘negligent’
Opposition MPs criticised the government’s delay on banning Huawei, stating that their policies on high risk vendors had been negligent.
“It has been clear for some time that there have been serious questions over whether Huawei should be allowed to control large sections of our country’s telecoms networks, yet the government refused to face reality,” shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah said.
“Their approach to our 5G capability, Huawei and our national security has been incomprehensibly negligent,” she added. Onwurah also asked if UK security policy was now being advised by the US.
“We will now pay the price for the government’s ineptitude,” said the Scottish National Party’s John Nicolson.
Some MPs said Huawei should be removed more quickly but Dowden insisted the timetable was “realistic”.