U.S. President Donald Trump said that he was responsible for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to ban Huawei from Britain’s 5G network from the end of 2027, a remark China said proved London’s move was about politics rather than security.
As Britain prepares to cast off from the European Union, fears over the security of Huawei have forced Johnson to take sides in the global rivalry between the United States and China.
Johnson on Tuesday ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by the end of 2027, risking the ire of China by signalling that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker was not welcome in the West.
“We convinced many countries, many countries – 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,” Trump told reporters at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.
“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.”
Trump identifies China as the United States’ main geopolitical rival, and has accused the Communist Party-ruled state of taking advantage over trade and not telling the truth over the novel coronavirus outbreak, which he has termed the “China plague”.
Britain denied that Trump alone was responsible for the Huawei ban, while China said the remark showed the decision was about geopolitics rather than security.
Asked about the comments, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News: “Well, we all know Donald Trump don’t we.”
China was tougher.
“This once again demonstrates that the relevant bans on Huawei are completely unrelated to national security, rather this is highly politicised manipulation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.
“This once again allows everyone to see clearly the one who is issuing threats here, there and everywhere is perhaps not China but the U.S.,” she said.
While Huawei said Johnson’s decision would put Britain into the digital slow lane, China said London had sided with Washington to exclude Chinese companies.
“This mistaken decision seriously hurts the interests of Chinese companies and seriously hits the foundation of mutual trust for cooperation between the UK and China,” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in London and Martin Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Michael Holden and Alex Richardson)
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