The United States on Tuesday welcomed the news that the United Kingdom plans to ban Huawei from future 5G networks and phase out untrusted Huawei equipment from existing networks, with President Donald Trump saying that countries have to choose between the US and China on this issue.
"With this decision, the UK joins a growing list of countries from around the world that are standing up for their national security by prohibiting the use of untrusted, high-risk vendors," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
The US, he said, will continue to work with the UK on fostering a secure and vibrant 5G ecosystem, which is critical to transatlantic security and prosperity. At the White House, during a Rose Garden press conference, Trump said he convinced many countries and he did it himself for the most part, not to use Huawei.
"Because we think it is an unsafe security risk, it is a big security risk," the president said. "I talked many countries out of using it. If they want to do business with us, they cannot use it. Just today I believe the UK announced that they are not going to be using it and that was up in the air for a long time, but they have decided, and you look at Italy, you look at many other countries," he said.
Asserting that the momentum in favour of secure 5G is building, Pompeo said the UK joins democracies such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Sweden in banning Huawei from future 5G networks. "Clean carriers like Jio in India, Telstra in Australia, SK and KT in South Korea, NTT in Japan and others have also prohibited the use of Huawei equipment in their networks.
"Countries need to be able to trust that 5G equipment and software will not threaten national security, economic security, privacy, intellectual property or human rights," Pompeo said as the British move was welcomed by top American lawmakers.
Democratic Senator Mark R Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, hoped that the Trump administration will begin to engage multilaterally with like-minded allies on promoting secure and competitively-priced alternatives to Huawei equipment.
"My bipartisan legislation, the United Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act, would be a major step in the right direction and I hope to see it included, fully funded, in the eventual defence authorisation act," he said. Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he is relieved to hear that the UK has initiated a plan to remove Huawei products from its communications systems.
"I have long been concerned about the national security risks posed by allowing high-risk vendors such as Huawei, and with them, the Chinese Communist Party, into any of our allies' telecommunications infrastructure. I know this has not been an easy decision to make, but it is the right one," he said.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said he is pleased to see the action being taken by the UK to address the security concerns they have identified with allowing equipment from Huawei into 5G networks.
"There is an overwhelming consensus that Huawei is in a position to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise critical communications infrastructure for the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party. The UK has taken a necessary step to safeguard its national security as it builds out advanced networks," he said.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry described it as a reassuring development that will benefit not only British security and privacy, but the ability of these countries to work even more closely together on vital security matters. "Both our countries have much work ahead to replace Huawei equipment in our networks as soon as possible," they said.
Supporting the British decision to prevent the inclusion of new Huawei equipment in the UK 5G network and the goal of removing all Huawei equipment from the network by 2027, Congressman Mike Turner said Huawei's inclusion in the UK 5G network directly puts at risk the ability of the Five Eyes alliance to continue as it has since World War II.
"Today's announcement alleviates the US's critical concern that any information shared with the UK would inadvertently be shared with the Chinese Communist Party through Huawei's inclusion in its 5G network," he said.