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Tue, 7 July 2020

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Boris Johnson set to phase out Huawei involvement in UK 5G networks by 2023

Boris Johnson set to phase out Huawei involvement in UK 5G networks by 2023

Chinese telecoms company Huawei will be phased out of the UK's 5G network (PA)

2 min read

Officials have confirmed that the Prime Minister plans to phase out Huawei technology from UK telecom infrastructure over the next three years.

The major U-turn comes after Tory MPs put pressure on Boris Johnson to ensure the Chinese company didn’t have a role in the UK’s 5G network over fears it could compromise national security.

Huawei was granted a limited role in providing 5G technology to the UK earlier this year, though its market share was capped at 35%.

The company’s involvement attracted major concern from backbench Conservatives, whos rebel amendment intended to ban Huawei from UK networks was only narrowly defeated in March.

The UK’s international allies have also criticised the plans, with US President Donald Trump branding it a “betrayal”. 

On Friday, The Telegraph revealed that the Prime Minister had caved to his critics and had instructed aides to put together plans to remove the Chinese telecoms giant.

A source told the paper: “[The PM] 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. 

“He has taken a great many soundings from his own MPs on this issue and shares their serious concerns. 

“The deal was struck before the pandemic hit but coronavirus has changed everything.”

But the Government now faces more pressure to extend the proposed measures and set a date for when the plans will reach the Commons.

Tory MP Neil O’Brien told the Financial Times: “It’s a decision that everyone in the world is having... Covid-19 is just accelerating things.”

“We need to make a distinction between having an open economy and interactions with the Chinese state.”

Meanwhile, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat wrote in the paper:

“In a downturn, the difference between state-backed credit and the buying power of normal commercial investors will become starker, further strengthening the hand of state-owned enterprises.”

“If we’re not careful, much of the intellectual property we will need for our long-term innovation and prosperity could disappear to Shanghai or Shenzhen.”

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China 5G huawei