Jan 28, 2020

U.K. allows Huawei to build part of 5G network

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Jan. 27. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The United Kingdom on Tuesday announced Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will build part of the country's next generation 5G mobile networks.

Why it matters: The United States along with numerous Conservative MPs have repeatedly warned the U.K. that Huawei is a national security risk, claiming that China could use its equipment for espionage. It's a sign the U.S. campaign against Huawei is faltering as allies open their markets.

Details: The U.K. government said Huawei will have access to "non-core" parts of the country's network but will be banned from "sensitive locations" such as military or nuclear sites.

  • Huawei’s overall share of U.K.'s 5G market will be capped at 35%. The cap will also "be kept under review to determine whether it should be further reduced as the market diversifies," the government said.

The big picture: Axios' Jonathan Swan reports that the decision could lead to the U.S. government curtailing the intelligence it shares with its closest ally.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said he would never jeopardize Britain’s security relationships, the Telegraph reports.

What they're saying: A senior Trump administration official told Axios' Jonathan Swan, "The United States is disappointed by the U.K.'s decision. There is no safe option for untrusted vendors to control any part of a 5G network."

  • "We look forward to working with the U.K. on a way forward that results in the exclusion of untrusted vendor components from 5G networks. We continue to urge all countries to carefully assess the long-term national security and economic impacts of allowing untrusted vendors access to important 5G network infrastructure."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Huawei's trial by "what if"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. critics of Huawei are ramping up a campaign to make the Chinese telecom giant a global pariah even as key American allies remain unsold on the case against the company.

Where it stands: U.S. officials and experts advocating blocking trade with Huawei lack hard evidence of Beijing-backed misdeeds, so they're asking the rest of the world to make choices based on "what if" scenarios.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020

Pence: "We'll see" if U.K.'s Huawei decision threatens trade deal

Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC Friday that "we'll see" if the U.K.'s decision to allow Chinese telecom firm Huawei to build part of its 5G network will impact forthcoming trade talks between the U.S. and U.K.

Why it matters: Striking a trade deal with the U.S. is one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top priorities post-Brexit.

Team Trump's 5G misfires

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios


The Trump administration, eager to win the 5G race and outflank China's Huawei, has run one plan after another up the flagpole — but found it hard to keep any of them flying.

Driving the news: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow aired a new approach Tuesday to speed the emergence of U.S.-led alternatives to Huawei. Attorney General William Barr dismissed the same idea Thursday as "pie in the sky."