British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he would make a decision on Huawei’s role in 5G networks that would give consumers and businesses the benefits of the new technology without compromising national security.
Johnson is due on Tuesday to decide what role China’s Huawei will play in 5G telecoms networks but has faced intense pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration to block the Chinese company which the United States fears could compromise British secrets.
When asked about Huawei on Monday, he said there was a way to allow consumers and businesses access to the new technology without compromising security relationships with the U.S.-led Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
“The way forward for us, clearly, is to have a system that delivers for people in this country the kind of consumer benefits they want through 5G technology ... but does not in any way compromise our critical national infrastructure, our security or jeopardize our ability to work together with other intelligence powers around the world,” Johnson said.
“So the Five Eyes security relationships we have we have got to keep them strong and safe,” he added. “We are going to come up with a solution that enables us to achieve both those objectives.”
In what some have compared to the Cold War arms race, the United States is worried that 5G dominance would give any global competitor such as China an advantage Washington is not ready to accept.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, denies it is a vehicle for Chinese intelligence and says the United States wants to ban it because no U.S. company can offer the same range of 5G technology at a competitive price.
Reuters reported on Jan. 23 that British officials had proposed granting Huawei a limited role in the UK’s future 5G network according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the UK, allow consumers, businesses in the UK to have access to fantastic technology, to fantastic communications but also protect our security interests and protect our key partnerships with other security powers around the world,” Johnson said.