Huawei 5G kits will be required to be removed from the UK by 2027, the Government has announced. In a major U-turn on their initial decision to grant the Chinese tech company access to British networks, Downing Street are now banning UK mobile providers from buying the equipment after December 31. The move has raised concerns about the impact on the relationship between the UK and China, with Nigel Inkster, former Director of Operations and Intelligence at the secret intelligence service, MI6, speaking to Times Radio about the decision.
Mr Inkster considered the possibility that China could decide to be a “better global neighbour” due to the backlash.
He said: “It’s difficult to know at the moment because one senses a slight pause in the thinking within Beijing about this.
“Foreign minister Wang Yi the other day at a conference in Beijing called for a better and more rational relationship, for example, between China and the USA.
“Until lately, Beijing has been behaving with mindset rather similar to a football club: ‘nobody likes us, we don’t care’.”
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The ex-MI6 official continued: “Their attitude is ‘you’re going to have to learn how to deal with us, get over it’.
“I think there is a tactical pause at the moment as the weight of push-back accumulates.
“But I don’t know whether that’s going to fundamentally shape attitudes within the party-state leadership.
“I think it’s too early to tell, and at the moment, the only prudent course for the UK is to assume the stronger, more assertive approach from Beijing is likely to continue in the absence of evidence to the contrary.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had hinted at the U-turn at a special defence select committee scrutinising Huawei.
He announced the decision in the Commons and said the move would delay the UK’s 5G rollout by a year.
Mr Dowden also warned that the cumulative cost of the moves, when coupled with earlier restrictions announced against Huawei, would add up to £2 billion.
He said: “This has not been an easy decision.
“But it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.”