Britain risking its ties with China, says Huawei UK boss
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.”