On Tuesday, in a defiant stance against China, the Prime Minister ordered all Huawei technology to be stripped out of the UK’s 5G network by 2027. In a major U-turn, Mr Johnson also banned the purchase of any new 5G equipment from the Chinese tech giant from the end of this year, amid ardent pressure from US President Donald Trump and his own backbench MPs over concerns with ties to the Chinese state. In January, Mr Johnson had controversially allowed Huawei to be involved with the UK’s 5G network, but, acting on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), he accepted the new US sanctions on Huawei were a “game-changer” in relation to the impact on the UK’s national security.
The Chinese government has said it is “strongly opposed” to the UK’s “groundless” ban of Huawei’s 5G kit and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying added Beijing would “take measures to safeguard” the “legitimate interests” of Chinese companies.
In what appeared to be a threat to the UK, Huawei itself said the move was “bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone” and threatened to “move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide”.
Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood has praised Boris Johnson’s decision but sent a vehement warning against going toe-to-toe with the communist state.
Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk: “I expect there will now be repercussions because of this latest policy change towards Huawei.
Boris Johnson has been urged to wake up
Huawei technology is to be stripped out of the UK’s 5G network by 2027
“We simply cannot go on trying to tactically stand up to China, we need a foreign policy reset and that means working with the US – there’s an absence of international leadership about what to do with the growing might of China.
“What sort of company uses the wording that Huawei did if it’s not one that we really shouldn’t be doing business with?
“It takes us back to the Cold War, this Sputnik moment in 1957, when that satellite flew across the United States and the Americans woke up and recognised that there was an authoritarian superpower watching what they were doing.
“It forced the West to not only become equal but actually get ahead in the Space Race.”
The Bournemouth East MP said the UK should take inspiration from the Cold War moment, comparing the new “technology race” seen now with the “space race” in the Fifties and Sixties.
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The company was given a role in the UK’s 5G network in January
He added: “The Apollo programme was the combination of state funding and commercial enterprise to make sure that the Americans would win.
“I touched on the fact that Huawei, Alibaba, China Telecom all receive massive state funding, which is why they are so far ahead in the technological race.
“We need to provide a technological solution.
“Imagine how you feel when you lose your mobile phone? The sense of nakedness – that’s how vulnerable our world will become if the internet doesn’t work, we can’t communicate and we can’t do business.
“We need telecoms infrastructure that we can rely on and that means building it ourselves.”
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Tobias Ellwood says working with Chinese companies is a threat
Mr Ellwood, who served in the Royal Green Jackets, said China’s influence over other countries is also a concern.
He urged the Prime Minister to make a speech to stop a potential World War 3 situation unfolding.
He added: “Some countries are never going to complain about China, and Russia now realises it has been superseded from a military perspective, isn’t friends with the west, and so is actually leaning towards China.
“So you can see a bi-polar world developing.
“This is why I want a speech from Boris Johnson – I want him to say ‘let’s wake up and not be in denial’.
Donald Trump has also warned about Huawei
The Prime Minister has been urged to make a speech against China
“These last 10 years, going back to David Cameron and George Osborne, we’ve been fobbed off by the Chinese.
“They have no intentions of changing their ways – the communist regime anyway – which I would distinguish from its people.
“First of all, he needs to work out who our allies are. Who can we work with?“
Mr Ellwood called for leadership from the US, and outlined the sobering threats that could be on the way.
He continued: “We must re-engage with the United States, liberate them to take a greater role on the International stage.
“We’re in a pandemic right now, where is the international leadership? There is none.
“There is a feeling of the Thirties about where we are today. In the sense that we’ve got countries that are pursuing a protectionist, isolationist approach – retreating from global exposure.
“We have a global recession coming over the horizon, a breakdown of international architecture like the United Nations to hold China to account.
“We are in a very dangerous period right now.”