Banned Chinese vendor Huawei hopes the UK might be allowed to let it back into its 5G network once Trump is no longer US President.
UK Huawei head Victor Zhang wasted little time after the US election in granting the Guardian an interview in which he implored the UK to have a rethink about its 5G policy. “The decision was a political one motivated by US perceptions of Huawei and not those of the UK. This is not really motivated by security, but about a trade war between the US and China,” said Zhang, before saying he hoped the Biden administration would adopt a different approach to the Trump one.
“Something is worrying me about the UK because discussions here are focused on the geopolitical conflict rather than how to improve the UK economy and make sure the country grabs the opportunity again to be a global leader post-Brexit, at the end of this year,” added Zhang. “All this is vital for the UK’s recovery post-Covid and after Brexit – trade, technology, digitalisation and how to attract foreign investment to the UK.”
Zhang made frequent reference to a report Huawei commissioned recently that warned of dire consequences for the UK if it falls behind on 5G. The clear inference being that banning Huawei will produce exactly that outcome, so we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by doing so. This is a tried and tested angle that has yielded little reward so far but, again, Zhang seems to reckon we might be more receptive to it without Trump’s minions whispering in our ear.
While Zhang may on to something, it remains to be seen whether inferring that the UK is so disinclined to think for itself will prove to be a wise strategy. Again, he’s probably right in so much as the decision to ban Huawei was, at the very least, a direct consequence of US sanctions, but stating it in this way is just as likely to antagonise as persuade. Having said that, nothing else has worked so what does Huawei have to lose from trying to shame our politicians into acting independently?