Huawei, China’s 5G telecom giant, is fighting for survival and literally pleading governments not to phase it out of their networks. The Chinese corporate giant has now requested the United Kingdom not to take a hurried and costly decision if phasing out Huawei’s equipment from its 5G network because of US sanctions.
Huawei has made this desperate request after the National Cyber Security Centre of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), the top intelligence body of the UK, revealed that the US sanctions barring the Chinese telecom giant from using technology relying on American intellectual property have had a “severe” impact on the technology firm.
The British intelligence believes that Huawei is now relying on “untrusted” equipment. Actually, the US President Donald Trump’s decision to ban the supply of semiconductors and chips to Huawei meant that the telecom giant had to rely on non-American suppliers, the veracity of which the British security agencies could not guarantee.
The UK was already looking to phase out Huawei under Donald Trump’s pressure. Recently, the UK exited the European Union and now it had no choice except warming up to the US.
Initially, the UK had agreed to give Huawei access up to 35 per cent of its 5G network provided that the Shenzhen-based company stayed out of the “core” elements dealing with personal data.
However, Boris Johnson led the British government drew up a 3-year plan to remove Huawei’s role in its 5G infrastructure in May. As Huawei would realise later this was just the tip of the iceberg.
With an adverse report from GCHQ, Huawei’s exit from the United Kingdom has got accelerated. The Daily Telegraph has reported that the British Government is planning to ban Huawei’s role in 5G infrastructure within the next few months.
This could well be the final nail in the coffin for Huawei, which has anyway been losing prolific markets one after another across the world.
Once thrown out of the UK, a domino effect could set in which would mean curtains insofar Huawei’s 5G dreams in Western Europe are concerned. The richest of the markets in Europe- France, Germany and the UK are located in Western Europe and Huawei doesn’t want to lose them.
But things are going South with the British intelligence report. Not only has it given Boris Johnson a reason to phase out Huawei, but it has also led to growing criticism in countries like France and Germany.
Paris has already decided to restrict licenses for telecom operators using 5G technology from Huawei, and has decided to sideline the Chinese telecom giant.
Within Germany too, it is becoming increasingly for Chancellor Angela Merkel to resist the growing opinion over security threats associated with Huawei. Members of her own her party- the Christian Democrats (CDU) are asking tough questions of Huawei.
What the UK intelligent report has really done is that it has blurred the distinction between ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ elements. Governments can no longer exploit the distinction to build consensus for allowing Huawei.
The Chinese telecom giant has realised how it is going to get buried if the UK follows up on its plans to throw it out of its network. According to WION, Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang argues that it will take months to understand the effects of American sanctions.
Zhang said, “We urge the UK government to take more time.” He added, “What we are talking about is the long-term impact. It takes time. It takes months to understand.”
Huawei has followed up its earnest appeal with a very subtle warning to the UK. The Chinese telecom giant that any decision to cut off Huawei could mean a delay of upto 18 months in Britain’s nationwide 5G access.
Huawei is estimating massive costs for such a delay. Zhang said that a delay of two years could cost the British economy 35.8 billion US dollars.
The Huawei Vice President added, “The decision will impact the future of Britain’s digital strategy and Britain’s digital economy, it is so important.”
As Boris Johnson’s plans to phase out Huawei threatens to cut off the Chinese telecom giant’s involvement in the global 5G network, the company is pulling all possible strings to ensure that it somehow avoids getting thrown out of the European country.