China urges UK to act independently over Huawei and 5G

(Image credit: Huawei)

The Chinese ambassador to the UK has urged the British government not bow to pressure to exclude certain vendors from participating in the rollout of 5G.

Earlier this week it leaked that the government was preparing to formally ban Huawei from supplying British operators with equipment for the core part of their networks but would not impose any ban at a radio layer.

The development follows months of uncertainty about the future role of the company in the UK following allegations, made mainly by the US, that its equipment is a risk to national security.

Huawei UK

Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims and there is little appetite for a ban from operators who fear such action would increase costs, reduce innovation, and ultimately delay the widespread availability of 5G in the UK.

Liu Xiaoming defended Huawei in a column in the The Sunday Telegraph, arguing the Shenzhen-based firm had a good track record with security. He added that Britain should make its decisions “independently” and not be influenced byt external forces.

“The last thing the world needs is the introduction of any sort of discriminatory measures toward companies involved in 5G network development. The last thing China expects from a truly open and fair ‘global Britain’ is a playing field that is not level,” Xiaoming said.

The calls for Huawei to be banned from the UK’s 5G networks have largely been sparked by the US government’s long-held suspicions about the company and because 5G will support a new breed of mission-critical business applications.

This means 5G networks will carry unprecedented volumes of sensitive data and that any suspension to connectivity would be crippling.

Xiaoming accepted the concerns were understandable but urged countries and vendors to work together to solve and mitigate any threat.

Huawei has been excluded from the US’s telecoms infrastructure on national security fears, largely founded on the firm’s perceived links to the Chinese government and a belief that legislation requires firms in China to assist in state surveillance.

Despite Huawei’s firm allegations, the US has been applying pressure to its allies in the West to follow its lead. However, Huawei is a major supplier for operators in Europe, while other nations, such as Germany, have been less keen to exclude the company.

For Huawei, the allegations and restrictions have not yet had an impact on its bottom line. Sales rose by a fifth to more than $100 billion last year, while it has agreed 40 commercial contracts for 5G, shipping 45 base stations in the process.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.