U.S. and U.K. stand firm against Huawei security risk

Huawei sign (© Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedestrian passes a Huawei advertisement in central London in April 2019. The U.K. plans to ban Huawei from its 5G networks. (© Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom is joining the U.S. and numerous other countries in ensuring that fifth-generation wireless networks remain secure.

U.K. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced July 14 that the country is banning equipment from the Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei from future 5G networks and phasing out the company’s equipment from existing 5G networks.

“The best way to secure our networks is for operators to stop using new, affected Huawei equipment to build the U.K.’s future 5G networks,” Dowden said in remarks to the country’s Parliament. “The security and resilience of our telecoms networks is of paramount importance.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo backed the U.K.’s decision.

“Countries need to be able to trust that 5G equipment and software will not threaten national security, economic security, privacy, intellectual property, or human rights,” he said in a July 14 statement.

Dominic Raab and Michael R. Pompeo walking from building into street (© Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo after talks July 21 in London. (© Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The U.K. joins a growing international consensus about the unacceptable risks of using equipment from China’s 5G wireless technology companies.

U.S. officials have long said that the People’s Republic of China’s laws requiring Chinese telecom vendors to support China’s intelligence services create significant security risks, including data theft and disruption of essential services.

Huawei, in particular, has a history of facilitating spying and theft of intellectual property. The U.S. State Department has called Huawei “an arm of the CCP’s surveillance state” that censors political dissidents and enables the mass internment of Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang.

The State Department on July 15 imposed visa restrictions against certain employees of Huawei and other Chinese tech companies to deter their support of Beijing’s human rights abuses.

“Telecommunications companies around the world should consider themselves on notice: If they are doing business with Huawei, they are doing business with human rights abusers,” the department said in a July 15 statement.