Tuesday 7 July 2020 - 09:12

Ex-MI6 Chief: Johnson Offered “Sound Reasons” to Lock Huawei Out of UK 5G Rollout

Story Code : 872986
Ex-MI6 Chief: Johnson Offered “Sound Reasons” to Lock Huawei Out of UK 5G Rollout
According to Sir John Sawers, who was Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service [MI6], from 2009 until 2014, the past few months have witnessed a shift in the UK’s stance regarding the Chinese company Huawei’s potential role in the development of the country’s 5G network.

Referring to the decision taken by Johnson’s government at the start of the year to grant Huawei a role in the construction of the UK’s 5G network as long as it was restricted to “non-core” parts of infrastructure and had no more than a 35 percent of market share, the British intelligence officer underscored that at the time he had approved of it, as the company’s equipment underwent thorough scrutiny by a testing facility overseen by UK intelligence services.

Furthermore, as crucial components of the equipment potentially to be used in line with the deal were to be supplied by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, assessed as a reliable supplier, this had also boosted the UK side’s confidence.

However, the latest US sanctions targeting Huawei left “reliable” non-Chinese suppliers unable to operate in conjunction with Huawei, thus undermining the ability of UK intelligence services to guarantee that Chinese-made equipment is safe to use in the country’s telecoms network.

On 30 June, the US Federal Communications Commission [FCC] designated the Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE as national security threats to the United States, Commission Chairman Ajit Pai had announced.

"The FCC has designated Huawei and ZTE as companies posing a national security threat to the United States… As a result, telecom companies cannot use money from our $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund on equipment or services produced or provided by these suppliers," tweeted Pai.

The move came as part of a spate of complex earlier restrictions installed against the Chinese tech giants amid US allegations that the companies have engaged in “technology theft and unfair market competition”.

The two firms have vehemently dismissed the claims.

Pointing to the new developments, the British diplomat and civil servant claimed that allowing Huawei to infiltrate the UK telecoms market under the current conditions posed newly-emerged security risks.

“There are now sound technical reasons for the UK to change January’s decision … The security assessment is now different because the facts have changed,” said Sawers