The United Kingdom has reversed course on Huawei, announcing plans Tuesday (July 14) to start banning companies in the country from buying equipment from the Chinese telecom and mobile phone giant.
The U.K.’s National Security Council said the ban will take effect at the end of the year, with mobile network operators also required to remove Huawei equipment from their systems by 2027.
The move will push back the timeline for the rollout of 5G mobile internet by two to three years, while adding $2.5 billion to the price tag, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden Secretary told Parliament on Tuesday.
“It has not been an easy decision but it is the right one: for the UK’s telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy — both now and in the long term,” Dowden said in a statement.
The U.K. decision follows a move in May by the United States to hit Huawei with another round of sanctions, barring the Chinese tech behemoth from purchasing semiconductor equipment from U.S. companies
The U.S. under the Trump Administration has launched a full-on offensive aimed at getting friends and allies across the world to shut out Huawei, arguing the Chinese Community party ultimately calls the shots and that Huawei’s equipment can be used to spy on other countries.
The latest round of U.S. sanctions proved pivotal to the U.K.’s decision, Dowden noted Tuesday, and reverses plans unveiled in January to give Huawei limited access to the country’s mobile phone networks.
As a result of the new U.S. sanctions, U.K. security officials concluded Huawei would not have the ability to acquire all the equipment and components it would need, and that the Chinese telecom giant, in turn, would not be able to guarantee the security of its equipment.
“What we want is a modern and mature relationship with China, based on mutual respect,” Dowden said. “Today’s decision, however, is about ensuring the long-term security of our telecoms network, specifically in the light of the new US sanctions.”
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