Britain turned to ‘Five Eyes’ to help find alternatives for Huawei| Instant News

Britain is stepping up efforts to persuade “Five Eyes” security partners and other allies to collaborate in finding industry alternatives for Huawei as a 5G supplier, ahead of a decision expected this week to curb the role of Chinese companies in the UK network.

But while British culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he was engaging countries that thought the same was “even more intense” on the telecommunications strategy, a US official warned that Britain first needs to take a tougher stance on Huawei before Washington could imagine joint initiatives with what called the democratic group group “D10”.

The London Plan will unite the Five Eyes – Britain, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – or the broader group of “D10” countries formed by G7 plus India, South Korea and Japan, in joint ventures that collaborate on investment, procurement and research to quickly track Huawei’s rivals.

Because Australia has excluded Huawei from 5G and Canada is considering whether to take the same path, Dowden hopes he can persuade these countries and others to help market diversification. “We cannot just act unilaterally like Britain,” he told lawmakers earlier this month. “The challenge is to ensure that all other countries are allied with us in treating it with an adequate level of seriousness and encouragement, and that they really want to make this happen.”

The idea – which was first discussed last year according to British security officials – has gained new urgency since new US sanctions against Chinese telecommunications companies have forced Britain to revisit its decision to allow Huawei a limited role in its 5G network.

Britain is now in a bond: sanctions threaten the security of Huawei’s supply chain, undermining its viability; but there are no easy alternatives without incurring higher costs and a 5G launch delay.

Robert O’Brien, US national security adviser, will discuss 5G with his colleagues from France, Britain, Germany and Italy regarding the difference in celebrating Bastille Day in Paris this week.

However, a US official with knowledge of the initiative said “nascent discussions” between groups of D10 nations had not resulted in concrete action due to US frustration at Britain’s tentative attitude towards Huawei. In particular, London’s approval of Chinese technology companies in January despite Washington’s warning that this would allow Beijing a “back door” to spy on British communications has eroded trust, the official said, stressing that any collaboration would be “conditional” on decisions England this week.

“Britain must show its skin, in terms of what it does and not just what it says it will do,” the person said.

A US State Department spokesman only said that Washington would “continue to work with Britain and all our allies and partners to protect the 5G network”.

The UK, meanwhile, is eager to strengthen its allies to strengthen rivals Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson, bring new vendors to market and invest in open source technology – OpenRAN – which will enable telecommunications operators to buy hardware that is not available out of reach. vendor, not a custom-made system. The UK also sought to identify “common standards” that would increase interoperability between markets.

Robert Hannigan, former director of GCHQ, a British signal intelligence agent, told the FT that the collaboration was a “good idea” and something that should have been done by Britain and its allies “years ago”.

However, some have expressed skepticism about whether it can work. “You are not talking about military or security or intelligence alliances, we are actually talking about industrial policy alliances,” said a western security official. “That would be very brilliant. . . but sitting around stating that we will have the Five Eyes industrial solution or the D10 industry solution is much easier said than done. “

Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, likens the idea to the US international version. Foreign Investment Committee, known as Cfius, an interagency panel that can block agreements on national security grounds.

“If the Five Eyes come together and create a joint process of where they will and will not receive foreign investment, allow the purchase of technology companies. . . “It will be a very large stretch of cooperation and enter into an area that will give them a lot of influence on the economy,” he said.

The US has tried to implement many things proposed by Britain. As well as lobbying other governments to exclude Huawei, the US has launched various programs including “Blue Dot Network“, A public-private sector initiative together with Australia and Japan to authorize infrastructure networks around the world for transparency, sustainability and development impact, widely considered as a rival to the China Belt and Road Initiative.

Administration has been also charged The new International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) – a merger of existing institutions that support US investment abroad – with financing Huawei’s free network abroad.

While DFC has a loan capacity of $ 60 billion, DFC cannot compete with hundreds of billions poured into Belt and Road by Chinese institutions. Although Huawei is not a state-owned company, cheap Chinese loans and subsidized infrastructure projects are strong incentives for countries to use enterprise technology.

The US is also trying to accelerate the development of OpenRAN technology, and Congress has encouraged direct funding for research. But such a proposal is likely to take years to show results, and risks threatening the market position of Huawei’s existing competitors.

“The US has launched various initiatives, including shoring up open source alternatives where Huawei cannot compete,” said Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Center for International Political Economy Thinkers in Brussels. “But there is no guarantee that such technology will really work on a large scale.”

Additional reporting by Nic Fildes in London

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