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Boris Johnson Allows Huawei to Build Part of 5G Network Despite U.S. Warnings

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement at Downing Street after winning the general election in London, England, December 13, 2019. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

The U.K. will allow Chinese technology giant Huawei restricted access to its infrastructure to assist in the construction of Britain’s 5G network, Boris Johnson’s government announced Tuesday.

The deal, which labels Huawei a “high-risk vendor,” comes after months of diplomatic pressure from the U.S. to resist Huawei’s advances over national security concerns.

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that the risks can be “safely managed,” and that banning Huawei outright would have pushed 5G roll-out back two to three years with “significant delays and cost to the consumer.”

Huawei will reportedly be banned from accessing the core network “control plane,” and will be capped at 35 percent market share.

“We are clear-eyed about the challenge posed by Huawei, which we today confirm is a high-risk vendor,” the source said. “It will be banned from those parts of the 5G and full-fiber networks that are critical to security.”

Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, called the move “a terrible decision.”

Johnson’s decision, which comes after a poll of Conservatives found 77 percent opposed giving Huawei access to Britain’s network, mirrors that of former prime minister Theresa May. In April, May’s government announced that it would allow Huawei to build certain “non-core” components.

The Trump administration has been outspoken in its criticism of Huawei and has warned allies against caving to the Chinese, arguing that doing so would disrupt their cooperation with the U.S.

“If a country adopts this [Huawei technology] and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last February. “In some cases there’s risk — we won’t even be able to co-locate American resources, an American embassy, an American military outpost.”

But the results have been mixed, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel deciding to ignore efforts by FCC chairman Ajit Pai to block Huawei in October.

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