The United Kingdom government has reversed on its earlier decision to let Chinese telecom giant Huawei into British 5G networks.
Oliver Dowden, the British minister in charge of digital issues, told the House of Commons on Tuesday that new purchases of Huawei 5G equipment would be barred starting the end of this year and that the Chinese company’s gear would have to be stripped out of British networks by the end of 2027. As recently as January, the U.K. said it could mitigate the risk of Huawei equipment in its networks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The earlier decision of the British government had been a compromise position of allowing Huawei’s 5G technology into the country, but tightening security on “core” networks.
The “situation took a major turn in May,” per Quartz, because a U.S. decision to bar “companies that use American technology or software from selling essential semiconductors” to Huawei led to an emergency review of policy. The National Cyber Security Centre then “revised its assessment of Huawei technology and found it to be unsafe as a result of the U.S. ban.”
With the decision, Britain has become part of “a growing list of countries from around the world that are standing up for their national security by prohibiting the use of untrusted, high-risk vendors,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Countries that have banned Huawei from 5G networks include the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Sweden. Carriers such as Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and others in India, Australia and South Korea have also prohibited the use of Huawei equipment in their networks, according to the State Department.
“The momentum in favor of secure 5G is building,” Pompeo said.
Huawei — a leader in 5G technologies, which will enable transmission of large amounts of data at extremely high speeds — has been under particular scrutiny from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
In May last year, Trump declared a national emergency to ban American companies from using telecom technology and services provided by entities considered a national security threat, apparently targeting Huawei. The Chinese telecom giant has also been added to the Commerce Department’s trade blacklist.
It is suspected that Huawei’s equipment could be used for cyberespionage, an allegation which the company denies.
The British government announced its latest stance on Huawei Tuesday, reversing an earlier decision to allow the company a limited role in national networks, a move believed to have angered the Trump administration as it increases pressure on China on issues ranging from technology to the coronavirus pandemic.