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Boris Johnson hints at blocking Huawei role in new 5G telecoms in UK

Prime minister says national security ‘key criterion’ in decision over Chinese telecoms giant’s involvement

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 04 December 2019 16:23 GMT
Boris Johnson refuses to rule out no-deal Brexit as he ends press conference

Boris Johnson has hinted that he will scrap plans to allow Chinese firm Huawei to provide 5G infrastructure in the UK.

Speaking after a Nato leaders summit in Watford, the prime minister said the “key criterion” in making the decision would be “our vital national security” and the need to cooperate with UK allies.

He was speaking after Donald Trump issued a fresh warning that Huawei’s involvement posed a “security danger”. The US has long been opposed to the Chinese company’s involvement in UK telecoms.

Theresa May ordered a review into the security risks associated with Huawei after concerns were raised. The then prime minister had reportedly been minded to allow the company’s involvement in building new 5G infrastructure in the UK, despite objections from other senior ministers.

The decision has now been delayed until after the general election.

Mr Johnson was pressed on the issue at the end of the Nato 70th anniversary leaders meeting at the Grove hotel, just north of London.

Answering questions from reporters, he said: “I don’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas. On the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security. Nor can we prejudice our ability to cooperate with other Five Eyes security partners, and that will be the key criterion that informs our decision about Huawei.”

Mr Trump, speaking after a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the day, said he had warned Nato allies against involving Huawei in their networks.

He said: “I do think it is a security risk, a security danger.

“I spoke to Italy, they look like they are not going to go forward with that. We spoke to other countries and they are not going to go forward.

“Everybody I have spoken to is not going forward, but how many countries can I speak to? Am I going to call up and speak to the whole world?”

The US administration has previously suggested that future cooperation with other members of the Fives Eyes intelligence-sharing partnership – the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – could be jeopardised if the Chinese company was given a role.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general, said the leaders had agreed that they should only use “secure and resilient systems” for telecoms.​

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