In the latest move, the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) has launched an emergency review of the UK’s contract with Huawei for 5G roll out. The NCSC is expected to find out if Huawei could still be allowed to continue with the planned deployment of its technologies in providing 5G services in the UK.
The review was announced on Sunday as part of Downing Street’s push to eliminate Huawei’s involvement in the activities of the 5G network in the UK.
The UK government has been under intense pressure from the US government to sever ties with the Chinese Company. The pressure was intensified earlier this year with the Trump administration threatening to stop intelligence sharing with London if it continues its relationship with Huawei.
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London has been adamant to push Huawei away due the cost of 5G roll out. Huawei offers the cheapest services available in 5G deployment and has used it to keep a lot of customers in their grip. The UK believes it will cost the government more to switch to another company right now.
But the latest sanction announced by the US government against Huawei that requires that chip and semiconductor producers in the US stop supplying Huawei with telecommunication components, has necessitated the emergency review and created a fresh ground for the UK authorities to oust the Chinese company.
Now, the new turn is coming from Downing Street, pushing to see that Huawei is eliminated from all British telecommunication by 2023.
According to Guardian, it was suggested on Friday that Downing Street is preparing the ground for a dramatic climbdown. A government spokesman was quoted as saying: “Following the US announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK’s networks.”
The new US sanction billed to take effect from September means Huawei has only China to source chips and semiconductors from. And that’s where the concern lies. London believes the situation increases the chances of security breaches and requires urgent attention.
Guardian reported Whitehall sources saying that the effect of the US sanctions will mean that Huawei will rely on unfamiliar and untested components that could be exploited. And that makes the security threat it will pose inevitable.
Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on the relationship between china and the United Kingdom. The British government has suspected that the Chinese government has a hand in the outbreak of the virus, and they are not being honest about it. The situation has dampened the UK’s determination to allow Huawei to lead its 5G roll out.
The sanction will mean that Huawei’s lead in global 5G deployment will suffer a severe setback, and Ericsson of Sweden and Nokia of Finland may see themselves dominating the 5G market.
Conservatives MPs, led by Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Bob Seely have been pushing for the reduction of Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G deployment to zero. Spurred by US pressure and lack of trust in China, the duo believe they now have the numbers to stop the British government from legislating for a 35% cap on Huawei in Britain.
The opposition to Huawei’s participation in the UK’s 5G deployment is increasing daily, and will likely rise to the numbers needed to oust Huawei in coming weeks. Seely reportedly tweeted, “now 59 MPs” on Sunday. Meaning that the Conservative Huawei Interest Group, has beaten the numbers (44) required to defeat Boris Johnson and the Tories to it, though they are the majority.
With intensifying pressure within and outside Britain, it may be game over for Huawei. Mathew Henderson, director of the Asia Studies Center the Henry Jackson Society said the push for a review is evidence that the government’s previous position was untenable.
“This review is recognition that the government’s previous position on Huawei was untenable, both due to the scale of opposition in parliament and from our allies,” he said.
Huawei has repeatedly pledged to be transparent in its business and operate independently from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party. Its vice chairman Victor Zhang said they will be glad to discuss the issue with NCSC.
“We are happy to discuss with NCSC any concerns they may have and hope to continue the close working relationship we have enjoyed for the last 10 years.”