UK shouldn’t be held hostage by US on Huawei is­sue

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL - By Yu Jin­cui Page Ed­i­tor: yanyun­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

With con­ser­va­tive politi­cian Boris John­son tak­ing over as UK prime minister on Wed­nes­day, he im­me­di­ately faces a string of chal­lenges, in­clud­ing de­cid­ing whether to ban, par­tially ad­mit or al­low Chi­nese tech com­pany Huawei’s com­plete in­volve­ment in the roll­out of Bri­tain’s 5G net­work. John­son said that the UK should not be doing any­thing that would de­ter co­op­er­a­tion with its most valu­able in­tel­li­gence part­ners, the Five Eyes, when ques­tioned on Huawei by Reuters at a cam­paign event in late June. Cit­ing those re­marks, some US me­dia as­serted the pos­si­bil­ity that the UK would ex­clude Huawei as a 5G sup­plier would in­crease af­ter John­son takes of­fice. How­ever, it’s too early to say.

It’s the UK gov­ern­ment’s ambition for the coun­try to be a world leader in 5G and en­sur­ing the 5G net­works can roll out with­out de­lay is es­sen­tial to make it come true. What are the al­ter­na­tives to Huawei in 5G in the UK? The fact is there are no other op­tions that are as cheap, good, ef­fi­cient and easy to in­stall as Huawei’s equip­ment. If the UK pulls the Chi­nese firm’s kit from its 5G net­works, this would de­lay the roll­out by up to 18 months, UK mo­bile op­er­a­tor Three warned in March.

Should there be sub­sti­tutes, it’s likely the UK gov­ern­ment would ban Huawei’s 5G in­volve­ment. But there ap­pears to be zero al­ter­na­tives. Con­ser­va­tives are usu­ally prag­matic. In an in­ter­view with Phoenix TV on Tues­day, John­son said his gov­ern­ment would be very “pro-china,” vow­ing to keep Bri­tain as “the most open econ­omy in Europe” for Chi­nese in­vest­ments. The new gov­ern­ment un­der John­son is sup­posed to know what’s in the best in­ter­ests of the UK on the Huawei is­sue.

Ac­cus­ing Huawei of be­ing a se­cu­rity threat, the US is forc­ing al­lies, the UK in par­tic­u­lar, to ex­clude Huawei equip­ment from 5G net­works. How­ever, the US hasn’t shown any con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence to sup­port its ac­cu­sa­tions. Just a few days ago, the UK'S Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Se­lect Com­mit­tee said they found no ev­i­dence to “sug­gest that the com­plete ex­clu­sion of Huawei from the UK’S telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works would, from a tech­ni­cal point of view, con­sti­tute a pro­por­tion­ate re­sponse to the po­ten­tial se­cu­rity threat posed by for­eign sup­pli­ers.”

Whether or not to ban Huawei is by no means an is­sue of na­tional se­cu­rity but a test of the UK’S diplo­matic in­de­pen­dence. Be­ing in­flu­enced by Wash­ing­ton will def­i­nitely not bring any benefits to London. The UK’S 5G de­ci­sion shouldn’t be held hostage by US for­eign pol­icy. Be­ing a US ally doesn’t mean the UK isn’t ca­pa­ble of, or cannot af­ford, act­ing against the will of the US.

De­spite provoca­tive re­marks made by the UK on Hong Kong, China-uk re­la­tions have gen­er­ally been sta­ble. The two coun­tries re­al­ize that main­tain­ing a healthy re­la­tion­ship is in the in­ter­est of both coun­tries. A Huawei ban will mean a turn­ing point, putting the bi­lat­eral ties in jeopardy. China doesn’t want to see such a sce­nario. It’s hoped the UK gov­ern­ment makes a wise de­ci­sion on the Huawei is­sue. Shouldn’t it in­sist on choos­ing the best for it­self rather than be­ing kid­napped by US for­eign pol­icy?

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