U.K. Bars Huawei as Tech Battle Between China and the West Escalates
But it remains unclear if the steps involving Huawei and others will achieve Washingtonâs objective. Chinese firms will still control much of Asiaâs traffic, and that means calls, data and searches will still move through Chinese switching systems. At best, the U.S. moves can make it harder for Chinaâs leaders to cut off communications in times of conflict. But it cannot protect the United States from what Sue Gordon, the former deputy director of national intelligence, called the process of âliving in a dirty network.â
Still, Robert B. Blair, a senior Commerce Department official who until recently served as the Trump White Houseâs chief telecommunications adviser, told a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday that âwe scored a major victoryâ with Britainâs decision.
In Britain, officials warned its ban would add significant costs, and delay the rollout of 5G by around two years. The new 5G wireless systems must be built atop existing networks that Huawei had a major role in constructing. In setting a 2027 deadline, the British government said moving any faster to remove Huawei gear would produce a greater risk to the security and resilience of the network.
The ban does not apply to smartphones and other consumer products made by Huawei, or equipment used in 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
Many see the Huawei dispute as foreshadowing future conflicts, with other prominent companies becoming entangled. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was considering actions against Chinese apps, including the hugely popular social media service TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese internet company.
Britainâs decision to bar Huawei will put pressure on other European countries. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is being urged to keep the company out of a new 5G network, but is weighing the economic fallout for German automakers, for whom China is a critical market.
âIf Huawei is stopped in its tracks, that does represent a very important inflection point for Chinaâs ability to achieve its objectives,â said Nigel Inkster, a senior adviser at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London who has written a book on the technology battle between the United States and China.