U.K. and Germany not aligned with U.S. on Huawei ban

Business & Technology

Since 2012 the U.S. has effectively shut Huawei out of the American market. More recently, the Trump administration has been pressuring U.S. allies around the globe to follow its lead in banning Huawei from sensitive 5G networks at the very least. In the second half of 2018, AustraliaNew Zealand, and then Japan all did so.

But earlier this month, Germany appeared to be leaning against the idea of banning Huawei outright, as Bloomberg reported, “Cabinet members from Merkel’s administration…concluded that singling out Huawei from a list of suppliers was not legally viable.”

The U.K. is now also leaning toward “mitigating”safety risk from Huawei, rather than banning its equipment outright, the Financial Times reports. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a wing of the British intelligence agency GCHQ, has “determined that there are ways to limit the risks,” two sources told the paper.

This could be a watershed moment because, as the FT notes, “the UK has access to sensitive U.S. intelligence via its membership of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network,” which also includes Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

One of FT’s anonymous sources added:

“Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their public and the U.S. administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British.”

The apparent conclusion of British intelligence follows a remarkable op-ed in the FT last week by former GCHQ head Robert Hannigan, who stated, “The key point here, obscured by the growing hysteria over Chinese tech, is that the NCSC has never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei.”

The cases of Huawei in Germany, Canada, and New Zealand are complicated. Here are three articles to read to understand why:

And in case you were wondering how the Chinese government feels about the pushback on Huawei, the SCMP published just the AP article you’re looking for under a headline that about sums it up: ‘Hypocritical, immoral, unfair bullying’: Chinese spokesman Geng Shuang blasts US for ‘fabricating’ security fears against Huawei as economic ploy.