US 'welcomes' UK's decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks, says Mike Pompeo

14 July 2020, 12:45 | Updated: 14 July 2020, 21:12

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The USA "welcomes" the UK's decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.

On Tuesday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced the UK Government was blocking Chinese tech giant Huawei from having access to Britain's 5G network.

Mr Dowden said "the government needs to look to the future" in a statement to the House of Commons, saying Huawei was a "high risk" vendor of 5G tech.

He confirmed that all Huawei technology is to be removed from the UK's 5G network by 2027, and said that it will be made illegal for tech firms to buy any 5G equipment from Huawei.

China has since hit out at the Government's decision, questioning whether the UK can provide a "fair" environment for business as tensions with Beijing deepened.

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, tweeted: "Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on Huawei.

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

Read more: Why has Huawei been banned and what happens if you have one of their phones?

Read more: China accused of targeting British political figures to back Huawei

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the UK's decision, saying that it "advances transatlantic security" and protects "citizens' privacy, national security, and free-world values".

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, Mr Pompeo said: "We welcome news that the United Kingdom plans to ban Huawei from future 5G networks and phase out untrusted Huawei equipment from existing networks.

"With this decision, the UK joins 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.

"We will continue to work with our British friends on fostering a secure and vibrant 5G ecosystem, which is critical to Transatlantic security and prosperity.

"The momentum in favor of secure 5G is building. The UK joins democracies such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Sweden in banning Huawei from future 5G networks.

"Clean carriers like Jio in India, Telstra in Australia, SK and KT in South Korea, NTT in Japan, and others have also prohibited the use of Huawei equipment in their networks.

"Countries need to be able to trust that 5G equipment and software."

Speaking to MPs earlier today, Mr Dowden explained that such "high risk" vendors could pose great security risks to the UK and needed to be kept away from critical infrastructure.

"This morning the Prime Minister attended a meeting of the National Cyber Security Centre's advice," he said.

The outcome of the meeting was that "operators should not buy any 5G equipment from Huawei and it would be made illegal to do so."

He said all Huawei equipment should be removed from the UK's 5G network by 2027.

"It is only by doing this that we will remain at the forefront of the technology revolution. We have to have confidence in the security and infrastructure on which they are built," he said.

"There is no such thing as a perfectly secure network, but it is the responsibility of government to make sure it is as secure as it can be."

"That is why we conducted the telecoms supply chain review to look at the long-term security of our 5G and full-fibre networks.

"It set out plans to implement one of the toughest regimes in the world for telecoms security, one which would shift from a model where the telecoms industry merely follows guidance to a model where standards would be enforced by legislation.

"One that would require all operators to raise security standards and combat a range of threats whether from cyber criminals or state sponsored attacks."

He said Huawei was "high risk" and said the situation had changed since January when the government said the firm could play a limited role in the infrastructure.

The decision was reversed today following intense pressure from the Trump administration and it is likely to add further strain to Britain's relationship with China.

Huawei UK spokesman Ed Brewster said: "This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone.

"It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.

"Instead of 'levelling up', the Government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider.

"We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.

The government has stopped Huawei's access to the UK's 5G network
The government has stopped Huawei's access to the UK's 5G network. Picture: PA

"Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicised, this is about US trade policy and not security.

"Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better connected UK. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done.

"We will conduct a detailed review of what today's announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK Government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain."

Earlier, the firm announced that Lord Browne is stepping down as Huawei's UK chairman.

A Huawei spokesman said: "When Lord Browne became chairman of Huawei UK's board of directors in 2015 he brought with him a wealth of experience which has proved vital in ensuring Huawei's commitment to corporate governance in the UK.

"He has been central to our commitment here dating back 20 years, and we thank him for his valuable contribution."

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