Government telecoms review to soft-pedal on Huawei | Technology

A long-awaited government review will fudge taking a critical decision on controversial Chinese technology company Huawei being allowed to build 5G networks in the UK.

Industry sources said the move means the company, which is already building networks for EE and Vodafone, can continue developing and selling 5G technology in the UK, a move that will alarm critics who claim its equipment could help the Chinese government spy on other countries. Huawei, which is subject to stringent oversight by the UK’s spy agency, GCHQ, denies the claim.

The sources told the Observer that the telecoms supply chain review will not include any discussion of Huawei’s role in building new networks when it is unveiled by Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, tomorrow.

“Our view is that this means Huawei is in when it comes to building UK 5G networks,” one well-placed industry source said.

The decision is likely to reopen divisions over the company’s future. In April, the National Security Council, chaired by Theresa May, reportedly agreed to block Huawei from all critical parts of the 5G network, but allow it restricted access elsewhere. This was still a concern for some. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson had to resign after being accused of leaking the decision, a claim he denies.

Allies of Boris Johnson, who is expected to replace May this week, are understood to have urged her to take a firm decision before stepping down. They worry that leaving the final say to Johnson would damage his chances of developing a trade deal with Donald Trump, who has been a staunch opponent of Huawei.

However, the White House may be softening its position. A meeting tomorrow between senior Trump administration members and US technology firms could result in a lifting of the ban on them selling equipment to Huawei.

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