The UK’s decision to allow Huawei limited access to 5G networks sets it apart from its key intelligence-sharing allies.
The US, Australia and New Zealand have already blocked the Chinese firm while Canada – the other member of the Five Eyes alliance of English-speaking nations which have an agreement to share security information – has yet to reveal where it stands.
Last year, the US placed trade restrictions on Huawei, blocking American companies from doing business with it, and has called for its allies to ban the Chinese firm from their 5G networks.
By allowing Huawei into U.K. 5G network, @BorisJohnson has chosen the surveillance state over the special relationship.
Tragic to see our closest ally, a nation Ronald Reagan once called “incandescent with courage,” turn away from our alliance and the cause of freedom. @UKinUSA
— Rep. Liz Cheney (@RepLizCheney) January 28, 2020
In addition, none of the four largest network carriers in the US currently use Huawei equipment in their existing networks.
The US has said using Huawei represents a security risk because of allegations the company has ties to the Chinese state and could be forced to spy on people through its telecoms equipment – something Huawei has strongly denied.
Australia has followed the United States’ lead and blocked Huawei from being a part of its 5G networks.
When it announced the decision in 2018, the Australian government said the involvement of a company “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” presents too much of a risk.
New Zealand has taken a similar position, its Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) having previously blocked a request from a New Zealand operator to use Huawei equipment in its 5G infrastructure because of what it said were security risks.
Canada, however, is yet to announce its own verdict on the issue.
The country is now the last of the Five Eyes nations to take a stance on the Chinese firm, with its own government review still to announce a decision, having been delayed for the country’s federal election, which took place late last year.
The issue has complicated already strained relations between the country and China, following the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou – the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – in Vancouver in 2018, at the request of the United States.
She is currently the subject of an extradition hearing and is wanted by the US on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Beijing has accused Washington of engaging in a politically motivated attempt to hurt the company.