On Friday, British lawmakers voiced out that the new prime minister must urgently decide on the subject of Huawei’s role in next-generation 5G networks. Ongoing disputes are harming international relations, which is why the nation’s leader should act as soon as possible.
Britain has become a geopolitical middle ground amid conflicts between different nations over Huawei, which is the world’s largest telecom equipment producer.
In the past, the United States warned about cutting off valuable intelligence sharing with allied nations who utilize Huawei’s equipment. The superpower country also accused the Chinese tech company of espionage at the command of Beijing.
China, then, has warned Britain that investment and trade could sustain critical damage if it decides to exclude Huawei from its economy.
Head of Britain’s National Security Council Theresa May, who is also stepping down as Prime Minister, made a decision in April to restrict Huawei from partaking in critical 5G networks decision-making.
By then, the British government should have already taken the final decision on Huawei’s case. However, May’s announcement to finally step down as PM delayed the overall process.
Her replacement, either Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Minister or Boris Johnson, former London mayor who is the frontrunner, will assume the role next week.
“Such an important decision, therefore, requires careful consideration,” Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said in a statement.
“However, the extent of the delay is now causing serious damage to our international relationships: a decision must be made as a matter of urgency.”
National Networks Must Be Secure
According to the ISC, the cybersecurity chiefs of Britain had been clear that the said decision was not centered on one country or company. The national networks must be capable of withstanding any attack, malicious action, and even simple human error.
In order to achieve this, the committee said diversifying suppliers is the optimal strategy to go for. However, the problem that the 5G rollout currently faces is that there are only three providers available: Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson.
ISC also added that overdependence and less competition give rise to lower security standards.
“Therefore, including a third company – even if you may have some security concerns about them and will have to set a higher bar for security measures within the system – will, counter-intuitively, result in higher overall security,” the ISC said.
Victor Zhang, Vice President of Huawei, buoys the committee’s statement on supplier diversity.
“We agree that diversity improves resilience in networks,” he said.
But the ISC also acknowledged that the decision was not limited to technical matters and that the government had to take into account political matters, in turn, doing anything to jeopardize the “Five Eyes” was out of the question.
The committee reasoned that China would understand Britain excludes Huawei as Beijing similarly treats the latter; not allowing British companies to play crucial roles in national infrastructure.
“The public debate implies that we have to choose between good economic links with China and our own national security,” it said.
“This is a simplistic viewpoint, and those promoting it do a disservice to China.”