The choice has been described as the biggest test of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's post-Brexit strategy to date. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Britain on Tuesday announced that it will allow Chinese telecom giant Huawei to help build the country's next generation of super-fast 5G networks with some restrictions, despite intense pressure from the US to block the firm over security concerns. 5G allows greater and faster data processing, and is seen as an integral component of new interconnected technologies such as automated vehicles and smart appliances.
Last month, India said it would allocate airwaves to all telecom service providers for conducting trials of 5G networks, a move welcomed by Huawei. In Brussels, a top European Union official said on Tuesday that the bloc will not ban Huawei or any other company in Europe. The mobile operators in the UK will be able to use Huawei equipment in their 5G networks but the company will be excluded from "security critical" core areas, according to a statement from the government.
The announcement follows months of public debate in the country over how to respond to concerns raised by the US government about potential national security risks posed by Huawei components. The Trump administration had been pressing for a total ban on Huawei products, alleging that Beijing could use the equipment for snooping.
The choice has been described as the biggest test of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's post-Brexit strategy to date, the BBC reported. Johnson was under intense pressure, including from within his Conservative Party, to agree to US demands on Huawei. He discussed the issue with President Donald Trump in a phone call on Friday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Sunday that Britain faced a "momentous" decision on 5G.
Huawei, based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, has consistently denied that it would help the Chinese government to spy. Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, has previously worked with China's People's Liberation Army and has ties with the ruling Communist Party of China. The Trump administration has previously warned that US-UK intelligence sharing could be put at risk if London allowed Huawei to participate in the 5G networks.
A Trump administration official said on Tuesday that the US "is disappointed" with the UK's decision, the report said. China has previously warned the UK that there could be "substantial" repercussions to other trade and investment plans if Huawei was banned outright from the country's 5G market.
"Huawei is reassured by the UK government's confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G rollout on track," the firm's UK chief Victor Zhang said in a statement after the government announced its decision. "It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market," he said.
Under the restricted approval, Huawei will be banned from supplying kit to "sensitive parts" of the network, known as the core. In addition, it will only be allowed to account for 35 per cent of the kit in a network's periphery, which includes radio masts.
Huawei will be excluded from areas near British military bases and nuclear sites. Huawei, which is a leader in 5G technology and also one of the world's biggest sellers of smartphones, has seen its business targeted in a concerted campaign by the US.
But Huawei's products are often described as superior and cheaper than those sold by European rivals Nokia and Ericsson, CNN reported. It also quoted some experts as saying that Huawei owes part of its success to favourable loans from the Chinese state, an assertion the company disputes.