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Facing More Pressure from Washington, Britain Pushes Back on Huawei Dependence

6
Jun,2020

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The Trump administration’s campaign to keep Chinese tech giant Huawei out of its allies’ 5G networks appears to be gaining ground in Britain.  Last year the British government concluded that although Huawei posed a “significantly increased risk” to British communications, the government decided to ban Huawei only from the country’s so-called network “core,” but otherwise allow it to attain up to 35% of Britain’s  5G network market.  That position changed after months of lobbying by U.S. officials, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that the country was examining possibilities for completely excluding Huawei from its 5G network by 2023.  Now, British officials are trying to Mobile network phone masts are visible in front of St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, Jan. 28, 2020.Experts say Britain’s change of attitude is partly due to concerns that refusing to cooperate with the U.S. on Huawei will pose a threat to intelligence sharing and joint defense capabilities with its major ally.  Others caution it’s unlikely that the new alliance will become a reality since telecom operators in European countries are unwilling to “rip and replace” Huawei components from their communications systems because of the high cost, and are lobbying their own governments to make sure Huawei remains an approved vendor.’D10′ club of democratic partners The countries in the group are the G7 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — plus Australia, South Korea and India. The proposal includes providing financial support to tech companies within the alliance.Justin Sherman, a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, said that Huawei’s major competitors, Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson, are both unable to attract enough capital to compete with Huawei’s massive 5G network infrastructure division, which gets financial support from the Chinese government.  “So there are lots of fronts on which this democratic coalition could presumably work, including more robust government investment in 5G research and development projects domestically, greater advocacy for open 5G standards in international bodies to contest the proprietary standards that Huawei continues to advance, or even the development of some kind of industrial policy to help promote 5G innovation,” Sherman  told VOA Mandarin.   FILE – Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 5, 2020.U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who is one of Huawei’s leading critics in Washington, warned the British Parliament on Tuesday that China was trying to use the telecom equipment maker “to drive a high-tech wedge between us.”  He added that the U.S., Britain and other allies could team up to develop their own superior 5G technologies. Meanwhile, the White House launched a major review of Chinese penetration of Huawei’s 5G Product Line President, Yang Chaobin, speaks during a 5G event in London, on Feb. 20, 2020.Lee-Makiyama added that telecom operators in Europe are owned by financial institutions, pension funds or governments, which means they are not as interested in investing in new networks or reinvesting in high-end networks.  “5G for them is just a cost,” he said.   He also pointed out that compared to the U.S. and Asian countries, the demand of European telecom users is not as high. “Consumers are not demanding higher speed. Shareholders prefer to see dividends rather than investments in the networks,” said Lee-Makiyama. “So, all in all, they are big fans of Chinese suppliers and they are lobbying very hard against their governments to make sure that Huawei continues to be allowed in the European markets.” Chuanqi Xu and Lin Yang contributed to this report.


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