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Latest US sanctions could be fatal for Huawei’s 5G plans , says former MI6 head

Paul Lipscombe
July 6, 2020

Boris Johnson permitted Huawei a limited 5G role in January

Huawei has been dealt a potentially fatal blow in its plans to develop Britain’s 5G infrastructure following the latest US sanctions imposed.

That is according to former head of MI6 Sir John Sawers, who expects Huawei’s 5G involvement to be scrapped.

In an article for the Financial Times, Sir John said that the latest US sanctions are damaging for the vendor. 

He said the ‘balance of risk has changed’ since Huawei was permitted a limited role back in January.

“The latest US sanctions at the end of June and last week, mean that non-reliable Chinese suppliers to Huawei can no longer work with company. 

“UK intelligence services can therefore no longer provide the needed assurances that Chinese-made equipment is still safe to use in the UK’s telecoms network,” said Sir John. 

Limited role

The latest reports suggest that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will move quickly to review the findings before making a decision on Huawei.

Johnson initially granted Huawei a restricted role in helping build the UK’s 5G infrastructure in January. 

But this role was capped at 35 per cent with the vendor barred from working on the core network. 

However this decision was unpopular with a number of Conservative MPs due to security concerns. 

Plus there has been added pressure from the US, with Donald Trump lobbying against a ban on Huawei.

Trump placed the vendor on the US Entity List in May 2019 and recently extended this ban.

This has resulted in Huawei losing access to Google Mobile Services.


But Huawei has continued to deny any wrongdoing and continues to hold talks with the Government.

In a statement Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said: “We are working closely with our customers to find ways of managing the proposed US restrictions so the UK can maintain its current lead in 5G. As ever, we remain open to discussions with the Government.

“We believe it is too early to determine the impact of the proposed restrictions, which are not about security, but about market position.

“All our world-leading products and solutions use technology and components over which the UK government has strict oversight.”

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