The government has launched a review into US sanctions on Huawei as speculation mounts that Boris Johnson will reverse his decision on allowing the Chinese firm to help build Britain’s 5G network.
The review, which has already begun, will report back to the government in a matter of weeks and will look at export controls imposed on Huawei last month.
The review is being undertaken by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a branch of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence agency, according to the Financial Times.
Government officials told the FT that the new sanctions could have “very, very serious” implications for Huawei’s role in building 5G infrastructure in the UK.
It comes as numerous media reports have suggested that the Prime Minister is considering U-turning on his decision to allow the Chinese telecoms firm to help build Britain’s 5G network.
Johnson made the decision earlier this year to allow Huawei to build “non-core” elements, which were deemed to be less vulnerable to potential security attacks.
Downing Street came has come under heavy pressure from Conservative MPs about Huawei’s involvement, with many concerned the firm could collect sensitive information through the network on behalf of the Chinese state.
Australia and the US – both a part of the Five Eyes security network with the UK – have banned Huawei from building any elements of their respective 5G networrks.
Conservative MP, and co-founder of the China Research Group, Neil O’Brien told City A.M. that a UK U-turn on Huawei would be widely welcomed on the Tory backbenches.
“It’s really encouraging that the government are looking at this,” he said.
“[Huawei] act like an arm of the Chinese state and they receive huge subsidies.
“I can’t imagine many backbenchers would be very supportive of Huawei being involved in our 5G network.”
The new sanctions placed on the telecoms giant by US President Donald Trump restrict Huawei’s access to semiconductors made with US equipment.
These semiconductors are used in smart phones made by Huawei.
Experts have said the sanctions will heavily disrupt the company’s supply chains and could imperil its long-term viability.
Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said: “We are happy to discuss with NCSC any concerns they may have and to continue the working relationship we have had for the last ten years.
“As a private company, 100 per cent owned by employees, which has operated in the UK for 20 years, our priority has been to help mobile and broadband companies keep Britain connected, which in this current health crisis has been more vital than ever.”