China attacks UK’s ‘groundless’ Huawei ban

China attacks UK's 'groundless' Huawei ban
Britain bans Huawei from its 5G. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: The Chinese government strongly criticized the UK’s decision to ban Huawei in the country’s 5G network. China branded the decision as ‘groundless’.

Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, added Beijing would “take measures to safeguard” the “legitimate interests” of Chinese companies.

However, the US has welcomed the move and announced new restrictions against Huawei.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would limit travel access for some of Huawei’s employees.

A key reason behind the UK’s latest move to ban Huawei is the Trump administration has continued what one UK official calls a campaign of “unrelenting pressure” on Huawei.

“The State Department will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese technology companies like Huawei that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally,” Mr Pompeo told a news conference.

Mr Pompeo also passed comment on the fact the UK had given an ultimatum to mobile networks that they should remove Huawei’s 5G equipment by 2027, saying: “Faster is always better.”

Donald Trump labelled Huawei a “big security risk”. Source: Reuters

Earlier, President Donald Trump had seemingly taken personal credit for the UK’s action.

The US President said: “We convinced many countries, many countries – and I did this myself for the most part – not to use Huawei because we think it’s an unsafe security risk”.

He made the comments as he attempted to increase pressure on China by announcing an executive order ending preferential treatment for Hong Kong in response to a new security law brought in the territory by China.

Huawei – giant telecom equipment producer from China – has repeatedly said it would not cause harm to any country.

‘Groundless risks’

On Tuesday, the UK’s digital secretary announced that the country’s telecoms networks would not be allowed to buy new Huawei 5G kit from 31 December and all such equipment should be stripped out of mobile networks by 2027.

In addition, it wants BT’s Openreach and other broadband infrastructure providers to stop using Huawei’s gear in the rollout of full-fibre broadband within the next couple of years.

In response to Huawei ban, China’s ambassador to the UK said the decision was “not only disappointing, it’s disheartening”.

Liu Xiaoming said: “The way you treat Huawei will be followed very closely by other Chinese businesses.”

But the foreign ministry arguably used even stronger language to the development.

Ms Hua said: “The UK side has used groundless risks as an excuse to co-operate with the United States… violating the relevant commitments made by the UK.”

Without being more specific, she said that any decisions and actions must come at a cost.

An adviser to the Chinese government, Mr Huiyao Wang, said Beijing still hoped the 2027 ban might be reversed before it came into effect.

But, where the situation stood, it could have an impact on other Chinese investment in Britain.

Te founder of the Centre for China and Globalisation think tank said: “It goes against the UK tradition as the open liberal leader in free trade.”

Robert Hannigan ran the UK’s cyber-spy agency GCHQ between 2014 and 2017. Source: PA

“This is going to probably have very negative implications.”

The UK government said it had based its decision on the advice of security chiefs who had judged they could no longer mitigate the risks of using Huawei’s equipment in light of new US sanctions.

The sanctions are designed to prevent the company having its own chips manufactured, making it buy in supplies from elsewhere.

And GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre said this meant the Chinese company’s equipment was likely to face more “security and reliability problems” as a consequence.

But he said he did not believe any Chinese retaliation would come in the form of a hack attack.

Mr Hannigan said: “No doubt China will want to express its displeasure. But there’s no particular reason to think that will be in cyber-space.

“There will be a lot of a lot of sound and fury. It may not amount to that much in the end.”

The UK is not a big market for Huawei. The country accounts for a only small fraction of Huawei’s revenue.

The Chinese tech manufacturer giant grew 13% in the first half of the year despite earlier efforts by Washington to disrupt its business.

However, Huawei’s concern is Britain’s move will motivate other countries to take similar measures.