Beijing today warned Britain that Chinese businesses could pull out of the UK after the Government banned Huawei from the nation’s new 5G network.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to the UK, said ‘the way you treat Huawei will be followed very closely by other Chinese businesses’ as he said the decision had ‘undermined the trust between the two countries’.
Mr Liu said ‘Huawei merely symbolises how you treat China’ in comments which came after Beijing had earlier accused Boris Johnson of being ‘America’s dupe’.
China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Britain had excluded the tech giant ‘without any concrete evidence’ and had colluded with the White House to ‘discriminate’ against the company.
She warned the UK’s actions ‘must come at a cost’ while the hardline state-backed Global Times publication said in an editorial it is ‘necessary for China to retaliate’.
The publication said a failure to respond by Beijing would suggest China is ‘too easy to bully’ as it said measures taken against the UK should be ‘public and painful’.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced yesterday that telecoms firms will be prohibited from buying Huawei 5G equipment from December 31 this year.
Meanwhile, all of the firm’s existing 5G technology will be stripped out of the network by the end of 2027.
The move represented a massive U-turn after Number 10 gave Huawei the green light in January to participate in building the infrastructure.
It has sparked a further deterioration in relations between the UK and China, with tensions already strained over coronavirus and the imposition by Beijing of a controversial national security law on Hong Kong.
The UK Government yesterday announced it is banning Huawei from Britain’s 5G network over national security concerns
China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said the Huawei decision will be ‘followed very closely by other Chinese businesses’
Donald Trump suggests HE convinced Boris Johnson to ban ‘unsafe’ Huawei from Britain’s 5G telecoms network
Donald Trump said at the White House last night (pictured) that he ‘convinced’ countries such as the UK to cut ties with Huawei
Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for having ‘convinced many countries’ including the UK not to use Huawei after Boris Johnson ordered a ban on the Chinese firm within the country’s 5G network.
The US president said, ‘I did this myself, for the most part’, as he spoke of having worked to pressure nations to not use Huawei, adding: ‘If they want to do business with us, they can’t use it.’
In a major U-turn provoking criticism from China, the Prime Minister ordered telecoms firms to remove Huawei equipment from the 5G network by 2027.
The move, costing billions and delaying the deployment of 5G by up to three years, came after a Government-ordered review found the security of Huawei’s equipment could not be guaranteed because of US sanctions.
Mr Trump boasted in a press conference that no White House ‘has been tougher on China’ than his administration, which the UK is trying to broker a post-Brexit trade deal with.
‘We convinced many countries – many countries – and I did this myself, for the most part – not to use Huawei because we think it’s an unsafe security risk. It’s a big security risk,’ he said.
The Government moved to ban Huawei from the UK’s 5G network after the White House imposed sanctions on the firm which prevent it from using US technology in its 5G equipment.
The UK said the sanctions meant it can ‘no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment’.
The US has long urged its allies not to use the company’s technology because of national security concerns – concerns which have always been rejected by Huawei.
Mr Liu told a think tank event this morning that the decision to expel Huawei from the 5G network was ‘disheartening’ as he hinted it could prompt other Chinese firms to rethink their UK operations.
He said: ‘I think it undermined the trust between the two countries. Trust, mutual trust, mutual respect are really the basics for a relationship, not only between countries but even between individuals.
‘When you look at the UK decision yesterday, I tweeted… it is disappointing and the wrong decision on Huawei.
‘Now I would say it is not only disappointing it is disheartening. When you see this company, good company, who have been here for 20 years, they not only invested £2 billion in this country, created 28,000 jobs and pay tax and contribute greatly to the telecoms industry of this country and to the local community, that you simply dump this company.’
He added: ‘The way you treat Huawei will be followed very closely by other Chinese businesses.
‘When mutual trust was undermined it would be difficult for the businesses to have confidence.’
Mr Liu said the UK Government’s treatment of Huawei would be seen as ‘symbolic’ of its overall approach to China.
‘Look at how the UK treats Huawei,’ he said. ‘The way they treat Huawei is, I always say Huawei is not about a private company. The big picture is about China. Huawei merely symbolises how you treat China.’
Ms Hua had earlier told reporters in Beijing that China strongly opposed the UK’s decision.
She said the move was driven by political reasoning and not by national security concerns as she also said Beijing will act to safeguard its interests in the wake of the U-turn.
How could China respond to the UK’s decision to ban Huawei from the 5G network?
Increase trade tariffs
The UK and China are expected to sit down for post-Brexit trade talks in the coming years.
But the Huawei move could prompt Beijing either to toughen its negotiating stance or to boycott the talks entirely.
Down the line it could go even further by increasing tariffs on UK imports, like automobiles, starting a full blown trade war with Britain.
Increased red tape
The Chinese market is key for many British bands and Beijing could make it more difficult for companies to export their goods there.
That could come in the form of increased red tape or bureaucracy which could significantly impact sales.
Tourism and education pressure
The Chinese government could pressure its citizens to simply avoid travelling to the UK.
This would have a potentially significant and harmful impact on the tourism sector as well as the higher education industry which welcomes thousands of Chinese students to the UK every year.
UK officials are braced for Beijing to launch disruptive cyber attacks in retaliation for the Huawei decision.
Key national infrastructure could be targeted to cause major headaches for the UK Government.
The Associated Press quoted her as saying: ‘Without any concrete evidence, the United Kingdom took unfounded risks as an excuse and cooperated with the United States to discriminate, suppress and exclude Chinese companies.’
She said the UK’s actions ‘must come at a cost’ but did not elaborate on how Beijing could respond. She also claimed Britain had become ‘America’s dupe’.
The UK Government has insisted it is ‘clear eyed’ in its approach to Beijing and that ‘what we want is a modern and mature relationship with China based on mutual respect’.
The US, along with Tory backbench MPs, had lobbied intensively for the UK Government to reverse the original decision it made in January.
Donald Trump appeared to claim credit for the U-turn, telling a press conference last night: ‘We convinced many countries – many countries – and I did this myself, for the most part – not to use Huawei because we think it’s an unsafe security risk.
‘It’s a big security risk. I talked many countries out of using it. If they want to do business with us, they can’t use it.
‘Just today, I believe that UK announced that they’re not going to be using it. And that was up in the air for a long time, but they’ve decided.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to down play Mr Trump’s comments as he said the move to ban Huawei was a ‘sensible decision’ based on the latest available evidence.
‘We all know Donald Trump, don’t we?’ he told Sky News.
‘All sorts of people can try to claim credit for the decision, but this was based on a technical assessment by the National Cyber Security Centre about how we can have the highest quality 5G systems in the future.
‘We are looking for a good US trade deal and working very closely on that, I think that’s a very important consideration.’
Meanwhile, the Global Times today took aim at Britain in its editorial as it said Beijing must now hit back.
It said: ‘It’s necessary for China to retaliate against UK, otherwise wouldn’t we be too easy to bully?
‘Such retaliation should be public and painful for the UK. But it’s unnecessary to turn it into a China-UK confrontation.
‘The UK is not the US, nor Australia, nor Canada. It is a relative ‘weak link’ in the Five Eyes.’
The decision to exclude Huawei from the UK’s 5G network comes at a time when relations between the UK and China are already strained over coronavirus and Hong Kong.
China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said expelling Huawei was a ‘disappointing and wrong decision’.
‘It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries,’ he tweeted.