Bri­tain risk­ing its ties with China, says Huawei UK boss

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By

James Cook

HUAWEI’S UK chair­man has warned Bri­tain risks throw­ing away its long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with China if it bans the com­pany from its 5G net­work.

John Browne, the for­mer head of BP who has led Huawei’s UK board since 2015, said “there is no diplo­macy here”, in an in­ter­view with Reuters.

“The UK has had a very long re­la­tion­ship with China and I hope it’s not one that they sim­ply throw away.”

The Gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to re­veal fur­ther re­stric­tions on Huawei in the UK fol­low­ing US sanc­tions that pre­vent it from us­ing Amer­i­can sup­pli­ers.

The sanc­tions mean Huawei will be forced to use foreign chips, which Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence is un­able to vet. Lord Browne, in his fi­nal term as chair­man of Huawei UK, said when he joined six years ago, no one could pro­nounce the com­pany’s name or knew what it did.

“It’s be­come very, very vis­i­ble in­deed, and it has be­come a foot­ball be­tween the United States and China,” he said. He com­pared the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween China and the US in tech­nolo­gies such as 5G and AI to the space race in the Fifties when Rus­sia was first to launch a satel­lite.

“A very sim­i­lar re­ac­tion is oc­cur­ring now, be­cause it’s al­ways been in the in­ter­ests of the US to be as­cen­dant in this area, it’s been good for the world as well,” he said. “If there’s no busi­ness and they are pre­vented from do­ing busi­ness I would ex­pect them to make de­ci­sions to with­draw.”

A 60-strong group of Con­ser­va­tive back­bench MPs have de­manded a com­plete ban on Huawei’s in­volve­ment in the UK’s 5G net­work.

Washington claims Huawei poses a na­tional se­cu­rity risk be­cause it is backed by the Chi­nese mil­i­tary. Huawei has re­peat­edly de­nied the claims.

Liu Xiaom­ing, the Chi­nese am­bas­sador to the UK, warned Boris John­son in a press con­fer­ence on Mon­day that “you can­not have a golden era if you treat China as an en­emy”.

“When you get rid of Huawei, it sends out a very wrong mes­sage,” he said. “You pun­ish your image as a coun­try that can con­duct in­de­pen­dent pol­icy. It means you suc­cumb to foreign pres­sure and you can­not make your own in­de­pen­dent foreign pol­icy.”

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