(Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to reduce Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported bit.ly/2zmI2DE.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson opens the Hidden Harms Summit via Zoom from the White Room of 10 Downing Street during COVID-19 in London, Britain May 21, 2020. Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS
Johnson has asked officials to make plans to reduce China’s involvement in British infrastructure to zero by 2023, the newspaper reported late on Friday.
Johnson is expected to use less reliance on China as a means to boost trade talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in the aftermath of Britain’s departure from the European Union, according to the newspaper.
Downing Street declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier on Friday, The Times reported that Johnson has instructed civil servants to make plans to end Britain’s reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports.
Beijing is being criticised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China. Beijing denies U.S. allegations it has not been transparent about the outbreak.
“He (Johnson) still wants a relationship with China but the Huawei deal is going to be significantly scaled back. Officials have been instructed to come up with a plan to reduce Huawei’s involvement as quickly as possible,” a source was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
The development would be a change of direction for Britain, which in late April confirmed it would allow Huawei to have a role in building its 5G phone network.
Britain decided in January to allow Huawei into what the government said were non-sensitive parts of the network, capping its involvement at 35%.
The United States has raised security concerns about Huawei equipment, and warned that allies that use it in their networks risked being cut off from valuable intelligence sharing feeds.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Grant McCool