Huawei launches UK charm offensive

Huawei's role in Britain is under scrutiny amid mistrust of China after the Covid-19 pandemic and reports the PM told officials to draft plans to end China's involvement in 5G infrastructure

by AFP
Huawei launches UK charm offensive
Huawei's 5G Product Line President, Yang Chaobin, speaks during a 5G event in London on February 20, 2020. Britain gave a green light in January to a limited role for Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in the country's 5G network in a decision that left the United States 'disappointed' after it called for a total ban. Photo: Isabel Infantes / AFP

Huawei on Monday launched a public relations drive to try and persuade the British government to allow the controversial company's equipment in the nation's 5G infrastructure.

"Huawei grew up in the UK," Victor Zhang, the vice-president of the Chinese telecoms giant, said in a statement, lauding its contribution to UK infrastructure.  

"We've been here for 20 years and were integral in building the 3G and 4G networks we all use every day."

Huawei's role in Britain's next-generation 5G network is under heightened scrutiny, with increasing global mistrust of China after the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month reportedly instructed officials to draft plans to end China's involvement in Britain's 5G infrastructure by 2023, in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

"For nearly 20 years, we've supplied the UK's mobile and broadband companies with 3G and 4G," Huawei added in an open letter published Monday in the ad pages of several newspapers.

"But some now question our role in helping Britain lead the way in 5G.

"We want you to know we are committed as ever to providing your network operator with the best equipment," the company said.

Johnson gave the green light to Huawei's 5G participation in January – despite widespread domestic opposition and pressure from the United States.

At the same time, he pledged to cut the private Chinese firm out of the most sensitive "core" elements of 5G that access personal data.

Washington has pushed for countries to bar Huawei from building their next generation 5G mobile networks, claiming its equipment can be used to spy for Beijing.

AFP