The UK government has set up a new inquiry into any security implications surrounding Huawei’s involvement in the country’s 5G networks as a result of the US sanctions against the Chinese tech giant, it emerged on Monday.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is in charge of Britain’s cyber security, is taking the lead in examining additional risks to Huawei products that may arise from the latest US sanctions.
The security and resilience of our networks are of paramount importance, an NCSC spokesperson said.
Following the US announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK’s networks, the spokesperson said.
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The US government had unveiled a plan earlier this month to block global chip supplies to Huawei, the latest move amid growing US-China tensions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The sanctions restrict Huawei from using US technology and software to design its semiconductors.
The US in recent months has increased its action against Huawei, preventing it from doing business in the US, as it believes the company known for its technological advancement in 5G is being used by the Chinese leadership to serve their interest.
Responding to the UK review, Victor Zhang, vice-president at Huawei, said, “Our priority remains to continue the rollout of reliable and secure 5G networks across Britain.
“We are happy to discuss with NCSC any concerns they may have and hope to continue the close working relationship we have enjoyed for the last 10 years.”
The latest inquiry comes after UK media reports indicated that Johnson plans to reduce the Chinese telecom giant’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network and has instructed officials to draw up plans that would see China’s involvement in the UK’s upgraded telecom network scaled down to zero by 2023.
Members of Parliament in the UK prime minister’s own Conservative Party have ramped up the charge against Huawei’s involvement, a movement that has gathered pace following China’s perceived non-transparent actions during the coronavirus crisis which originated in the country.
Under the current UK government telecom upgrade plans, Huawei is banned from supplying kit to “sensitive parts” of the network, known as the core. In addition, it is only allowed to account for 35 percent of the kit in a network’s periphery, which includes radio masts.
UK mobile operators have reportedly been told by the NCSC which is part of the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ that they would have three years to comply with caps on the use of Huawei equipment in their networks.
5G promises faster mobile internet data speeds, a stable network that can handle more connections, and more bandwidth for a multitude of different technological applications. Most of the UK’s mobile networks have said they would use and deploy Huawei’s 5G products only outside the core in the “periphery”.