WASHINGTON -- The Heritage Foundation strongly supports recently announced efforts by the British government to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the role of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei in the development of the United Kingdom’s 5G network. The Daily Telegraph has reported “the Prime Minister has instructed officials to draw up plans that would see China’s involvement in the UK's 5G network reduced to zero.” This is a welcome development as governments across the world adopt an increasingly tough stance toward China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Heritage Foundation has been at the forefront of urging the British government against giving Chinese companies a stake in its 5G infrastructure. Huawei, a de facto state-controlled Chinese enterprise, poses a significant national security risk to the United Kingdom and U.S. allies across the world. It is already deeply embedded in the U.K.’s telecommunications infrastructure, and giving it a role in the development of Britain's 5G network would be a hugely dangerous move.
Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, warned in an article for The Telegraph in February, “not only will China take this opportunity to harvest data on a fellow member of the U.N. Security Council, but also it will ruthlessly leverage its grip on the British economy. Ultimately, the U.S. fears that China’s rulers will view the U.K. like a vassal state.”
Early this year, Heritage Foundation scholars met with senior British officials in London and in Washington, as well as with leading Conservative Members of Parliament, conveying deep-seated U.S. concerns over the involvement of Huawei in Britain’s 5G network. In addition, Heritage has provided valuable policy advice to the executive branch of the United States government regarding the significant security risks posed by Huawei to America’s closest friend and ally, and the damaging implications for the future of the U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship should Huawei be allowed a pivotal presence in Britain’s 5G development.
In response to these recent developments, Gardiner said:
“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demonstrated tremendous leadership in delivering Brexit and taking the U.K. out of the European Union. He must now stand up to Beijing by ensuring that Huawei is completely removed from Great Britain’s telecommunications infrastructure. As Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently declared, it can no longer be ‘business as usual’ in dealing with China.
“America must continue to stand with our partners in resisting China’s efforts to undermine the free world, and focus on strengthening the transatlantic alliance in the face of its adversaries.”
Read more on the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese enterprises: The U.S. Must Treat China as a National Security Threat to 5G Networks