UK planning to reduce Huawei's role in 5G network

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to reduce Chinese technology giant Huawei's involvement in Britain's 5G network in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, The Daily Telegraph reported.

He has asked officials to make plans to reduce China's involvement in British infrastructure to zero by 2023, the newspaper reported late on Friday. He is expected to use less reliance on China as a means to boost trade talks with United States President Donald Trump in the aftermath of Britain's departure from the European Union.

Downing Street declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier on Friday, The Times reported that Mr Johnson has instructed civil servants to make plans to end Britain's reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports.

Beijing is being criticised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, but it denies US allegations that it has not been transparent about the crisis.

A source was quoted by the Telegraph as saying: "(Johnson) still wants a relationship with China but the Huawei deal is going to be significantly scaled back. Officials have been instructed to come up with a plan to reduce Huawei's involvement as quickly as possible."

The development would be a change of direction for Britain, which last month confirmed it would allow Huawei to have a role in building its 5G network.

Britain decided in January to allow Huawei into what the government said were non-sensitive parts of the network, capping its involvement at 35 per cent.

The US has raised security concerns about Huawei equipment, and warned that allies that use it risked being cut off from valuable intelligence feeds.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 24, 2020, with the headline 'UK planning to reduce Huawei's role in 5G network'. Print Edition | Subscribe