The US government, under the leadership of President Donald Trump, has been able to successfully persuade several countries to ban Huawei from their 5G infrastructure citing security concerns. However, now that Trump has lost to Joe Biden in the recently concluded presidential elections and the US will see a new leader taking the charge in a few months, the Chinese company is wasting no time to have those countries rethink their decision.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Huawei's Vice President Victor Zhang urged the UK to revisit the decision to ban the company from the country's 5G infrastructure in the post-Trump era. Zhang, who heads the Chinese giant's UK operations, said it will "worsen England's north-south divide."
Calling the UK as the "birthplace of the first Industrial Revolution," he urged the country to stay true to its roots. The UK "could not afford to fall behind in the 5G revolution," he said.
In July this year, the UK government ordered a complete wipeout of Huawei from the country's 5G networks by 2027. That decision marked a major U-turn on a previous decision to allow the company to supply 35 percent of the nation's 5G equipment.
British wireless carriers can no longer buy Huawei 5G equipment after 31 December this year. However, they don't require to replace the older 2G, 3G, and 4G equipment. All such components can remain in use for as long as they are necessary.
It's no secret that this reversal was a direct implication of the pressure from the Trump administration. And that's precisely what the ministers from the opposition camp argued. The UK government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was called on to ban Huawei altogether if it poses a threat to national security, rather than just removing it from the 5G infrastructure.
Huawei urges the UK to reconsider 5G ban
Back in July, UK's Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had said that the ban on Huawei would result in a cumulative delay to 5G roll out of two to three years. He also admitted that this decision would incur costs of up to £2 billion.
However, Zhang now argues that it'd have a much bigger economic impact on the UK. Citing a report by an independent research firm Assembly, he claims that this decision would cost the government a whopping £18.2 billion.
The Huawei UK head also gave an example of the widening north-south digital divide. "In the north, the broadband carriage and speeds are already far behind London and the south-east. The delay in developing 5G will worsen the situation," he said.
World-class connectivity is crucial to achieving a "balance of investment between London, the south-east, the Midlands, and the north". And for that, the UK should roll out a nationwide 5G network without any delay.
Zhang did not hold back from terming the UK's decision as a political one motivated by US perceptions of Huawei. "This is not really motivated by security, but about a trade war between the US and China," he said. He hopes the UK "will keep an open mind" and "look to see if there is a better way forward."
He believes there isn't any security reason for the UK to stop using Huawei. The European country shouldn't respond to America's "unjustified sanctions" on the Chinese company. Zhang hopes the new, Biden-led US administration would approach this matter differently.
The outgoing Trump administration has claimed Huawei to be a threat to national security because of its alleged ties with the Chinese Communist Party. The company is alleged to have a backdoor for the Beijing officials. However, the Chinese giant has always refuted those allegations.