BRITAIN is pursuing an alliance of ten major world democracies to create an alternative pool of suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China, The Times of London has reported.
The British government has approached Washington about a “D10” club of democratic partners, based on G7 plus Australia, South Korea and India, the newspaper said.
Last week, the Daily Telegraph reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was planning to reduce Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network.
Britain also announced that it was ‘reviewing’ Chinese communications giant Huawei’s role in Britain’s 5G network. The firm has alleged ties to the Chinese government.
The UK’s cybersecurity centre said: “The security and resilience of our networks is of paramount importance.”
“Following the U.S. announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the U.K.’s networks.”
The backlash came as members of the Conservative Party started to speak out against the use of Huawei.
Secretary of State Damian Green, who told Bloomberg that ‘we need to devise a proper, realistic exit strategy from relying on Huawei… our telecom providers… need to know the government is determined to drive down Huawei’s involvement to zero percent over a realistic timescale’.
Former party leader Iain Duncan Smith had similar criticism, as laid out in a Mail on Sunday article, previously covered on Politicalite.
In retaliation to this, the company’s UK chief Victor Zhang has threatened that any attempts to undermine the program would leave Britain in a ‘digital slow lane’ and that ‘there are those who choose to continue to attack us without presenting any evidence’. He concluded that ‘disrupting our involvement in the 5G rollout would do Britain a disservice’.
The issue of Huawei had previously been put under Parliamentary scrutiny through a vote on an amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, which would have prevented ‘high-risk vendors’ from being involved in 5G networks, also previously covered on Politicalite. It was voted down, despite the entirety of the opposition parties voting for it, along with 24 Tory rebels.
The company and its technology are currently banned in the US under national security guidelines. The US government warned that the UK going hand in hand with Huawei would undermine intelligence sharing between the two countries.
Additional Reporting by Reuters