Donald Trump’s ban on Huawei could influence UK firms’ decisions about using the Chinese telecoms giant’s technology, Theresa May has suggested.
The Chinese firm is at the centre of an international row, with the US urging allies not to allow it to be involved in 5G mobile infrastructure because of concerns over its links to the Beijing government – claims dismissed by Huawei.
A UK review of 5G supply chains will be published “in due course”, Mrs May said, but she indicated British firms may already be taking Mr Trump’s actions into account.
The US has put Huawei on a so-called entity list, effectively banning American firms from selling components and technology to it.
Reports have suggested the UK Government is considering allowing Huawei to form “non-core” parts of the 5G network despite the US concerns about security.
But the trade barrier erected by Mr Trump could shape the thinking of firms, Mrs May suggested.
Speaking to reporters accompanying her to the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Mrs May said: “The decision by the United States for Huawei to be put on the entity list has obviously brought another factor into this issue and individual companies will be wanting to consider what the impact of that has.”
Asked by the BBC whether Mr Trump’s actions had made the UK’s review pointless, Mrs May said: “First of all the review is not into Huawei, the review is into the use of different vendors within our 5G system looking into the future.
“That review will of course report in due course.
“What we want to ensure is that we have good resilience in our networks, we have good cyber security.
“I also want to see an increased diversity of providers of equipment that can be used in 5G and indeed in the next generation.”
Pressed on Mr Trump’s approach, she added: “Of course individual companies will be making decisions about their own rollout of 5G and we have yet to see the full impact of the US entity listing of Huawei.”
Huawei’s UK managing director has insisted “nothing has changed” for users of the Chinese company’s phones despite the US-issued trade ban.
Anson Zhang acknowledged there has been “confusion” and “uncertainty” around the company’s devices, but he confirmed its devices would continue to receive software and security updates in both the short and long-term and users “do not have to worry”.
He told PA: “Obviously, there are some challenges right now, I think everybody knows that – but the situation from our side is that nothing has changed.”
Nokia – one of Huawei’s biggest rivals – waded into the row, arguing its own equipment was a safer bet than the Chinese firm’s.
The Finnish firm’s chief technology officer, Marcus Weldon, highlighted a recent report from US security firm Finite state, which examined security flaws in Huawei’s networking equipment.
Mr Weldon told the BBC: “We read those reports and we think OK, we’re doing a much better job than they are.”
He added: “Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven’t patched things, they haven’t upgraded. But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don’t.”