Huawei chief security officer: British ban unrelated to US security risk claims

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But Huawei security chief Andy Purdy said he believed the UK’s decision was unrelated to allegations by U.S. officials that Huawei is linked to the Chinese government.

The British decision, which overrides an earlier decision authorizing Huawei to play a limited role in building the country’s 5G infrastructure, comes after months of pressure from the U.S. government. The United States has long viewed Huawei as a national security risk and is concerned that its equipment may be used by the Chinese government to spy. Huawei firmly denies these allegations.

However, the ban also follows new U.S. sanctions implemented in May that ban global companies from using U.S. equipment to make semiconductors to sell to Huawei. The new rule prevents companies like TSMC from exporting computer chipsets and other key components to Huawei, which worries Huawei’s supply chain and may affect its ability to build 5G and other base stations equipment.

Purdy told CNN’s Richard Quest in an interview on Wednesday that he believes the new US sanctions “forced” the UK to make its decision.

“The additional restrictions that the US government imposed on Huawei, to harm China by hurting Huawei, have forced the British government,” said Purdy. “It’s a pretty complex issue because of the US sanctions that have been put in place … But it’s not because of what President Trump and Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo said. They said it was proof that the UK government comes to believe that Huawei is an arm of the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party. The British government has said no such thing. ”

UK Minister of Digital and Culture Oliver Dowden said on Tuesday that the new US sanctions imposed on the company in May had “significantly changed” the landscape.

“Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei’s supply chain, the UK can no longer be sure that it will be able to guarantee the safety of future Huawei 5G equipment,” said Dowden.

Still, the British move is a huge loss for Huawei, especially since other countries may now follow suit.

Purdy said China should not fight back against the UK over the ban. Instead, he urged the U.S. and Chinese governments to come together to discuss the greater tensions that he believes are behind the U.S. crackdown on Huawei.

Pompeo stepped up pressure on Wednesday by announcing visa restrictions on employees of Chinese tech companies, including Huawei.

“This type of action, to try to fight back, to try to harm China by hurting Huawei, is really unjustified, and the United States and China must start having discussions because, despite the great differences, there is has major issues around the world that need to be addressed by these two governments, “said Mr. Purdy.

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