U.S. Threats Complicate British Mulling Over Huawei 5G Tech

UK United Kingdom Huawei Wireless Cell Tower Network British Illustration

The United States appears to be getting desperate in its attempts to combat Huawei’s global expansion on the wireless front, having resorted to old-school threat as part of its latest strategy shift meant to communicate a single message to its allies – don’t use Chinese telecom equipment under any circumstances.

Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert Strayer was quoted as saying Huawei cannot be considered “a trusted vendor” in any scenario and if Washington was to see any of its allies award new 5G contracts to the Shenzen-based firm, it would reassess its general communications with those countries, particularly on the intelligence front. In practice, such a move could go as far as to lead the U.S. to stop sharing critical intelligence with defiant allies, partially or completely, according to the government official.

Monday did not mark the first occasion whereon the U.S. attempted threatening its allies into compliance on the 5G strategy front; the Trump administration already tried a similar moved aimed at Germany in particular several weeks back but saw the effort backfire in a rather spectacular fashion. Following similar intelligence-related threats made by an American envoy, Berlin went from being closed to essentially outlawing Huawei through a string of impossible-to-fulfill legal demands to concluding it will not be bullying into taking any policy stance, particularly one that’s primarily related to domestic happenings.


As a result, Germany may now allow non-core telecom equipment from Huawei to be used in buildouts meant to provide it with access to the fifth generation of mobile networks.

It’s still unclear how the United Kingdom might react to the newest developments; much like Germany, London also blasted Huawei tech in recent months over security concerns and signaled it may be looking to prevent the firm from playing a major role in its 5G buildouts. The next generation of mobile connectivity will mark a crucial milestone for society as a whole seeing how it should allow for the creation of entirely new tech and millions of jobs, consequently driving economic growth, with the majority of the positions it’s likely to add to the job market being middle-class roles.

In other words, the global economy will become more reliant on telecommunications than ever before, so having wireless systems in danger of being compromised by China, the world’s second-largest economy, is a concern for its number-one rival, even if one was to ignore all of the issues between the two countries in regards to trade secret theft and other similar topics.


Ultimately, there’s no doubt the UK is skeptical about Huawei’s ability to resist potential requests to compromise its foreign clients on behalf of the Chinese government but the low cost of its solutions relative to rival offerings and the fact that the world’s largest telecom equipment maker is still in the best possible position to deliver 5G infrastructure with minimal delays does make its proposal tempting, regardless of the security concerns London might harbor.

Huawei already survived the initial wave of U.S. lobbying meant to curb its foreign expansion efforts and will certainly continue fighting it moving forward.