AFP – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday challenged US opponents of Britain’s potential decision to let China’s Huawei telecoms giant develop its 5G network to come up with a better choice.
Johnson’s comments came one day after a US delegation arrived in London for a last-gasp push aimed at keeping its ally from signing up the private but controversial Chinese firm.
The United States and Australia have both banned their 5G providers from using Huawei on security grounds.
But UK security officials think the company’s risks can be managed if it is only used for “non-core” elements of the network such as antennae and base stations attached to masts and roofs.
“The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology. I have talked about infrastructure and technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody,” said Johnson.
“Now, if people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us which is the alternative,” he told BBC television in an interview.
US officials believe Huawei’s employees can be forced to spy for the Beijing authorities under provisions of Chinese law covering operations of state and private organisations.
They also fear that China could simply instruct Huawei to shut down 5G communications of a rival nation in case of war or other conflict.
Britain’s debate about Huawei has dragged on for more than a year.
A final decision has been delayed by former prime minister Theresa May’s resignation in May over the Brexit crisis.