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A pedestrian walks past a Huawei product stand at an EE telecommunications shop in central London on April 29, 2019. Photo: AFP

UK said to be ready to approve limited 5G role for Huawei amid final round of pressure from US

  • The UK prime minister is now looking at imposing a market share cap on Huawei, the Financial Times cited people close to the discussions as saying

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to approve a restricted role for Huawei in Britain’s 5G network on Tuesday, with ministers looking to impose a new cap on the market share the Chinese telecoms company can take in the UK, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Johnson has been under intense pressure from Washington – including from president Donald Trump last Friday – to ban the Chinese telecoms giant from the entire network. The US claims the company poses a security risk and threatens UK-US intelligence sharing.

Huawei has consistently said that it is a private company and not subject to Chinese state interference and has argued for consistent global network security standards that all companies should abide by.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, wrote on Twitter on Sunday night that the UK had a “momentous decision ahead on 5G”, a sign of continued efforts to persuade London to follow Washington’s lead.

The UK prime minister is now looking at imposing a market share cap on Huawei, the Financial Times cited people close to the discussions as saying, in an attempt to bring other suppliers in and to avoid over-reliance on the Chinese company.

Huawei signs smartphone maps deal with TomTom

A final decision on Huawei’s future role in the UK will be taken at the National Security Council on Tuesday. Downing Street insisted no final decisions had been taken, but government officials admit that ministers’ options are limited, according to the Financial Times report.

Reuters reported last week that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked her conservative lawmakers to wait until after a March European Union summit before taking a position on whether Huawei can take part in the roll-out of Germany’s 5G network, citing sources involved in their talks.

German operators are all customers of Huawei and have warned that banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks.

China is pushing ahead aggressively with the roll-out of 5G networks in the country, and Huawei is considered the industry leader, ahead of ZTE, Nokia and Ericsson. Being the first to reach massive scale with next-generation networks could also help China in its ambition to dominate fields such as factory automation, robotics and autonomous driving.

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