Jul 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.K.-China tension heats up over Huawei

Illustration of a warning sign featuring the Huawei logo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.K. may further restrict technology from Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, on its 5G networks, due to security concerns, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: The move is seen as a diplomatic victory for the U.S., which has sought to prevent Huawei technologies from being employed in communication networks across the world. China, meanwhile, accuses the U.S. of using security rationales to squeeze Huawei from international markets because it is hostile to economic competition.

  • The reported move by the U.K., which might ban new Huawei equipment from being used in U.K. networks by the end of the year, follows a gradual toughening of restrictions on Huawei there, though U.K. officials have generally taken a more conciliatory position toward the company than their U.S. counterparts.
  • Unlike the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, for instance, the U.K. set up a special center, paid for by Huawei but overseen by members of GCHQ, the U.K.'s signals intelligence agency. The facility gives British intelligence officials access to Huawei software and hardware to inspect any unintended — or purposeful — vulnerabilities that might allow China to snoop digitally on other countries' networks.
  • In January, British officials banned Huawei technology from being used in its "core" communications networks, as well as those close to the military, intelligence, and nuclear sites.
  • The new reported restrictions further squeeze Huawei's ability to operate in the country — and are likely tantamount to a total ban.

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