The government will not allow Huawei to build the UK’s 5G network if it risks national security or jeopardise co-operation with other Five Eyes countries, according to Boris Johnson.
Other countries, including fellow Five Eyes nations Australia and the US, have banned the Chinese firm from taking part in building their respective 5G networks.
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The UK had refused to make a similar decision and rumours abounded just months ago that Johnson was set to allow Huawei to be involved in the project.
However, the Prime Minister appeared to do a u-turn at a press conference at today’s Nato summit.
He said the UK shouldn’t be “unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas, but on the other hand we cannot prejudice our vital national security interest”.
He added that co-operation with fellow Five Eyes countries – America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – “will be the key criterion that informs our decision about Huawei”.
It appears to have come after US President Donald Trump pressured Johnson about the potential security threat of Huawei.
A readout from the White House said: “Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street.
“The two leaders again reaffirmed the importance of the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and discussed their priorities ahead of today’s NATO Leaders Meeting.
“They also discussed trade between the two countries and a range of security issues – including the importance of both nations working together to ensure the security of our telecommunication networks and guard against untrusted providers.”
The US has attempted to lead a revolt of countries belonging to the Five Eyes security collective to not let Huawei take part in building future digital infrastructure.
The stand against the telecoms giant is due to concerns it could allow backdoor entry to allow the Chinese state apparatus to spy on the people and governments of overseas countries.
The Five Eyes countries have an intelligence sharing agreement, meaning a security breach of one country could infect the others.
Speaking at the Nato conference today, Trump called Huawei a “security risk” and a “security danger”.
“And I spoke to Italy and they look like they are not going to go forward with [Huawei being involved in their 5G networks],” he said.
“I spoke to other countries, they are not going to go forward.
“Everybody I’ve spoken to is not going to go forward.”
In response to Trump and Johnson’s comments, a Huawei spokesman said: “We’re confident the UK government will continue to take an objective, evidence-based approach to cyber security.
“Our customers trust us because we supply the kind of secure, resilient systems called for by the NATO Declaration and will continue working with them to build innovative new networks.”