- Six senior UK politicians wrote a letter on Saturday criticising the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to build part of its 5G network.
- In a BBC interview on Sunday China’s ambassador to the UK said the politicians were pursuing a “witch hunt” against Huawei because it is a Chinese company.
- The UK’s decision to include Huawei in its 5G network was in defiance of the US, which has been lobbying allies to exclude Huawei’s 5G equipment on the grounds it acts as a conduit for Chinese government spying.
- On Sunday China warned France against freezing Huawei out of its own 5G network plans, and appeared to issue a veiled threat that persecution of Huawei by European countries could result in retaliation.
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China just ramped up its rhetoric over Huawei’s involvement in Europe’s 5G networks.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, China’s ambassador to the UK described British politicians voicing concerns about Huawei’s role in the country’s 5G network as a “witch hunt.”
A group of six senior Conservative party politicians wrote a letter on Saturday protesting the UK’s decision last month to allow Huawei to build “non-core” parts of its 5G network, citing cybersecurity fears.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative party leader and one of the authors of the letter, said: “You have an organisation from a country that is an aggressor in terms of cyber warfare and a company that is clearly totally and utterly in the hands of the Chinese government who demand absolute obedience on these matters.”
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said the group was unfairly persecuting Huawei for geopolitical reasons. “Huawei is a private-owned company, nothing to do with the Chinese government. The only problem they have is they are a Chinese company.” Liu responded.
The UK’s decision to partially include Huawei in its 5G network came as a massive blow to the Trump administration, which has been lobbying its allies to freeze Huawei out of their 5G equipment entirely on the grounds that the company provides technological “backdoors” for Chinese government espionage. Huawei has repeatedly denied this.
Multiple US lawmakers including Vice President Mike Pence voiced their outrage at the decision, and President Trump was reportedly “apoplectic” in a phone call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at the end of which the US President slammed down the phone.
The UK isn’t the only European country where Huawei is fighting for recognition. On Sunday the Chinese embassy in Paris warned France against freezing out Huawei in the wake of reports that several French cities might place restrictions on the company.
The embassy appeared to make a veiled threat that any persecution of Huawei could lead to a trade war with major European 5G competitors like Nokia and Ericsson. “We do not wish to see the development of European companies in China affected due to discrimination against Huawei and protectionism in France and other European countries,” it said in a statement.
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It further urged France to draw up “transparent criteria and treat all companies in a similar way.”