UK to purge Huawei from 5G by end of 2027

By Paul Sandle and Guy Faulconbridge

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain's 5G network by the end of 2027, risking the ire of China by signaling that the world's biggest telecoms equipment maker is not welcome in the West.

As Britain prepares to cast off from the European Union, fears over the security of Huawei have forced Johnson to choose between global rivals the United States and China.

He had been under intense pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, while Beijing had warned London, which has sought to court China in recent years, that billions in investment would be at risk if it sided with Washington.

Reversing a January decision to allow Huawei to supply up to 35% of the non-core 5G network, Johnson banned British telecoms operators from buying any 5G equipment from Huawei by year-end and gave them seven years to rip out existing gear.

"This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run," digital minister Oliver Dowden told parliament.

"By the time of the next election, we will have implemented in law an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks".

The reason given for the about-turn was the impact of new U.S. sanctions on chip technology, which Britain's National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ eavesdropping agency, had told ministers meant Huawei was not a reliable supplier.

White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Britain's action reflected a growing consensus that Huawei and other untrusted vendors posed a threat to national security because they remained "beholden to the Chinese Communist Party".

According to a law introduced in 2017 under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese companies have an obligation to support and cooperate in China's national intelligence work.

China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming called the decision "disappointing and wrong".

"It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries," he said.

The ban will delay the roll-out of 5G - cast as the nervous system of the future economy - by two to three years, and add costs of up to 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion).

The Dec. 31, 2027 deadline was not as bad as British telecoms operators such as BT, Vodafone and Three had feared. They were concerned that they would be forced to spend billions of pounds to rip out Huawei equipment much faster.

BT said 500 million pounds already earmarked to comply with the earlier cap would cover its costs. Its shares closed up 4%.


Hanging up on Huawei marks an end to what former Prime Minister David Cameron cast as a "golden era" of ties which saw Britain pushed as Europe's top destination for Chinese capital.

But London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong and the perception China did not tell the whole truth over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Huawei said the decision was more about U.S. trade policy than security. "It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide," a spokesman said.

In what some have compared to the Cold War antagonism with the Soviet Union, the United States is worried that 5G dominance could lead towards Chinese technological supremacy.

After Australia first raised alarms about the risk of 5G being hijacked by a hostile state, worries in the West about Huawei have mounted.

The United States calls the company an agent of the Chinese Communist state - a view widely supported in Johnson's Conservative Party. Huawei denies it spies for China and says the United States wants to frustrate its growth because no U.S. company offers the same technology at a competitive price.

In a tweet, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the British decision "advances Transatlantic security in the #5G era while protecting citizens’ privacy, national security, and free-world values."

British ministers say the rise to global dominance of Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former People's Liberation Army engineer, has caught the West off-guard.

Dowden said Britain was working with its allies to foster stronger rivals to Huawei, naming firms from Finland, Sweden, South Korea and Japan.

"The first thing we need to do is ensure that we protect the other two vendors in this market, so Nokia, and Ericsson," Dowden said. "Secondly we need to get new suppliers in, that starts with Samsung, and it starts with NEC."

Nokia and Ericsson said they stood ready to replace Huawei gear.

By allowing Huawei's equipment to remain in the 5G network until end-2027 and in older mobile networks, Johnson stopped short of demands from some lawmakers for a ban in four years.

Chinese imports to Britain doubled in the 15 years to 2018, to about 9% of all goods imported, worth 43 billion pounds.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Just mimicking Trump .... Protectionism for US tech companies...Those in the UK get a slice of the pie. China should ban Apple from its shores.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I believe this is the only right decision for UK, even though it will bring some pain. UK would be naive to think that China will not use every opportunity to destabilize their country and western world. The argument that Huawei is independent from CCP is ridiculous. In communist dictatorship everything is under the ruling party, that's simply how it works. Good luck UK.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Unfortunately, this is one of the times that "A stopped clock is right twice a day". For all the wrong reasons, the Trump Administration is nonetheless making the right push: ban Huawei.

Huawei has already been caught twice with inserting backdoors into their hardware. Not that they're alone in this: the US, UK, and German intelligence agencies have long used secretly-known vulnerabilities in certain key internet devices sold by Cisco and Juniper to snoop.

But the Huawei situations is a completely different level - these devices containing such spy-enabled hardware will be extremely widespread, allowing for snooping by the Chinese on a VAST array of stuff. Huawei simply cannot be trusted at all in this matter. And that doesn't, of course, address the other fact that Huawei is dumping their product to obtain market share (and it almost certainly being subsidized by the Chinese government to do so). 

We don't need 5G at all - it's so small an "upgrade" as to be useless except to boost manufacturers' profits. Rollouts can be delayed until there are more reliable sources, and Huawei is NOT one of them.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Why can the UK and USA send me back to the days of floppy discs? I’m a citizen of neither, but 5G is progress.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Right decision.

The CCP, both covertly and overtly, controls many Chinese companies.

So if you have a Chinese company which is involved in the infrastructure fo another country, it is time to kick them out.

Next should be apps like WeChat, Tiktok etc.......

6 ( +6 / -0 )


Why can the UK and USA send me back to the days of floppy discs? I’m a citizen of neither, but 5G is progress.

You don't live in the USA or UK.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The same should be done with Chinese SNS like Tik Tok! I would also be careful about alot of the cheap tech on Amazon that is from China. Most of the smart tech requires you to connect to apps or servers that run through China!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Any Chinese company that says the CCP has no control or influence over it is lying. Mr. Xi would confirm it, if asked, because the CCP controls everything in China. Who can argue otherwise?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm not sure if this is a recycled story from another 'media' outlet or not, but it's painting a rather misleading picture of the situation.

Huawei lobbied the government to defer the purge until the end of 2027, rather than immediately/asap, the government caved!

BT has already begun removing 4G Huawei gear years ago, and had no intention of using Huawei gear going forward. Yet, the story is portrayed as somehow deleterious to Huawei's interest. Huawei has some 7 years of spying and wrecking to the system left (what they asked for)...not a win for the people by any mean.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I am not Trump supporter, however, I think it is good for the world to ban together against China is this area of tech.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Despite warning from Beijing, Premier Johnson, under immense pressure from Washington, decides to side with the latter. The loss incurred in dismantling 5G network would cost UK an irrecoverable fortune that could drag UK's sluggish economy further down.

Could London not want to think again?..

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Thank god!! I was HORRIFIED when my country, the UK, decided to give Huawei a limited role in the UK's 5G network. Good to see BOJO come back to his senses!

The CCP, both covertly and overtly, controls many Chinese companies.

Of course!!

So if you have a Chinese company which is involved in the infrastructure fo another country, it is time to kick them out.

Couldn't agree more!

Next should be apps like WeChat, Tiktok etc.......

Hear Hear!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming called the decision "disappointing and wrong".

It is difficult for a communist to discover that there are alternatives....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good. At least it won't be as easy for China to steal information.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

these devices containing such spy-enabled hardware will be extremely widespread, allowing for snooping by the Chinese on a VAST array of stuff.

But not according to the UK's GCHQ, who apparently reported there were no great security concerns with Huawei. Until very recently, we were led to believe the UK would continue to allow some Huawei equipment in the 5G network.

I don't believe that security is the reason for this decision. A political action against the CCP perhaps, or just obeying orders from our "partner" across the Atlantic. Understandable reasons maybe, but I think we should be told.

Meanwhile, most of the UK will continue to use Huawei equipment for its non-5G internet connections.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We need to make serious adjustments in out relationship with China, especially Hong Kong and Uighur concentration camps.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The funny thing is China is moaning about this saying it goes against the agreement they have with the U.K!!! The U.K should just reply that it's a domestic matter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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