UK ministers are planning to introduce new laws that would block Chinese firm Huawei from sensitive state projects, according to the Sun.
The news comes as the China-US trade fight continues to deepen. The US secretary intends to raise concerns over the national and regional dominance of Huawei when he visits Hungary later this week.
The Sun reported that some ministers fear that Huawei 5G equipment could be used to spy on and hack British companies.
Foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and defence secretary, Gavin Williams, expressed their concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain, the report said.
Williamson has previously warned of “malign activity” by the Chinese government through Huawei’s 5G network, which he said poses a serious risk to Britain national security, according to the Independent.
Hunt and Britain’s most senior civil servant, Mark Sedwill, are said to be backing the plan that will allow the government to prohibit Chinese firms like Huawei from participating in any 5G mobile network rollouts in the UK and all “strategically significant “technology.
The new law “will be pushed through among laws that Britain needs to pass after Brexit to replace EU rules on public procurement,” the Sun reports.
Huawei has been a prominent supplier of telecom equipment in Britain for some years now, but tensions between the US and China are seeing the US put more pressure on allies to bar Chinese telecoms equipment from firms like Huawei and ZTE.
Australia and New Zealand have followed the US in banning Huawei from using their 5G network due to security concerns.
Huawei’s equipment has proven to be popular in Eastern and Central Europe in recent year for its reliability and low cost, analysts have said.
US intensifies pressure
“We are more concerned about the Chinese presence, the Huawei presence, in central and eastern Europe than in western Europe,” an unnamed senior US administration official told the Financial Times.
Last month, authorities in Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei on suspicion of spying, according to numerous media reports.
A US delegation visited Western European countries in November to warn them against using Huawei’s equipment, which has effectively been banned in the US.
The US also said it is specifically looking to counter China 16+1 initiative, which engaged with 11 EU member states and 5 Balkan countries on various levels, including building roads, power stations, and other infrastructures.
US officials say that 16+1 initiative “underscores the importance” of Central and Eastern Europe to “Chinese global strategic plans”.