Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 November 2019

Huawei boss says UK ‘won’t say no’ over 5G infrastructure

Britain’s politicians have raised concerns over the telecoms firm’s links to China

Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive officer of Huawei Technologies speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China Bloomberg
Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive officer of Huawei Technologies speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China Bloomberg

The chief executive of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, has said he believes ultimately the UK will allow his company to take part in bringing 5G mobile coverage to the country.

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei made the remarks amid a standoff between the telecoms company he founded and Britain’s politicians over the roll out of 5G infrastructure.

“I think they won’t say no to us as long as they go through those rigorous tests and look at it in a serious manner. I think if they do say no, it won’t be to us,” Mr Zhengfei told Britain’s Sky News.

In April the UK’s National Security Council agreed a de facto block to Huawei being given access to critical parts of the country’s mobile networks.

Concerns have been raised about the prospect of the Chinese government being given a backdoor to Britain’s telecoms network through Huawei. The firm, which has strong ties with Beijing, has denied allegations its equipment would be used for eavesdropping.

In May US President Donald Trump banned Huawei from trading with firms in the United States amid a trade war between Washington and Beijing. Respect for intellectual property laws by Chinese firms like Huawei has been one issue driving a wedge between the two economic powers.

Last month, Britain indicated it was unwilling to make a decision before the outcome of US actions against Huawei became clear. Last week the Trump administration finally released a rule, mandated by US congress, prohibiting government agencies from buying certain kinds of Huawei equipment.

The New York Times reported the prohibition extends to telecoms gear including video surveillance equipment and services from Huawei and other Chinese companies like ZTE and Hikvision. It is unclear what effect that new clarity will have in Britain.

Despite developments in the US, Mr Zhengfei has indicated he believes the UK’s new prime minister Boris Johnson may be more amenable to dealing with his firm. He told Sky he believed Mr Johnson to be a "very decisive" and a "very capable person".

The Huawei CEO said he had been particularly impressed by the UK leader's insistence on this third day in office that Britain would roll-out 5G as soon as possible.

Huawei’s role in Britain has been the topic of discussion between Mr Johnson and Mr Trump in recent phone calls. The US president told reporters on Thursday that he was broadly “very much aligned,” with the British prime minister as the pair attempt to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.

Updated: August 16, 2019 05:26 PM

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