US tech blockade against Huawei thwarted by UK's 'Silicon Fen'

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/26 15:18:43

The handout concept image provided by Huawei shows the first phase of a state-of-the-art center to be built in Cambridge, Britain. Chinese technology firm Huawei announced on June 25, 2020 that it will build a state-of-the-art center in Cambridge, which will focus on the research, development, and manufacturing of optical devices and modules. (Xinhua)

Chinese experts say the US' campaign against Huawei, which uses the country's state apparatus to bring down on the company, has suffered another blow, after local planners in an English village near Cambridge gave approval to Huawei's $1.2 billion research and development (R&D) lab project.

Local planners in Sawston, a small village near Cambridge, gave Huawei the go-ahead to build a high-end R&D facility on Thursday, even as the UK's current security review could lead the UK government to ban the use Huawei's 5G equipment in the country's 5G network.

The approval by the local planners, which is seen by some experts as having a binding effect over the fate of the R&D undertaking, comes as the UK government's official stance on Huawei looks to change again.

Earlier this year, the UK government rejected US demands that Huawei should not participate in the region's 5G networks, but concessions were made by denying Huawei's role in "core" parts of the UK's 5G network, with a 35 percent limit placed on Huawei's total participation.

In May, the US escalated its crackdown on Huawei, moving to cut the company off from the global supply chain of chips, leading to the UK National Cyber Security Center conducting further security reviews, which could possibly lead to the UK government banning Huawei from its 5G networks.

"Giving go-ahead amid the maximum noise and pressure of the US to a R&D project, which is a long-term partnership for years to come, and inevitably involves the use of relatively sensitive equipment and data, shows that there is no animosity by and large in the UK toward the Chinese tech giant," Ma Jihua, a veteran industry analyst and close follower of Huawei, told the Global Times on Friday.

"If the UK tries to revoke the approval, it will suffer damage in its business good faith," Ma said.

"We are pleased to announce Phase 1 of our new Cambridge Campus has been approved," a Huawei spokesperson tweeted from its official tweet account on Thursday, noting that the optoelectronics R&D as well as manufacturing center will focus on advanced optical communications technology, including delivering an advanced full-fiber broadband services.

An initiative that dates back to as earlier as 2018, when the company first acquired 500 acres of land in Cambridge, claims that it will invest $1.2 billion into the first phase of the project, which includes the construction of 50,000 square meters of facilities across nine acres of land, which will directly create around 400 local jobs. 

"Another example of win-win cooperation between Huawei?? and the UK. Hope to hear more success stories of mutual beneficial cooperation in future," Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming tweeted, commenting on Huawei's announcement about the Sawston deal. 

The R&D and manufacturing center will be located in the heart of the UK's "Silicon Fen," a gravity center of the UK technology sectors with talent from Cambridge University, and will be built 15 minutes from the headquarters of the chip maker Arm Holdings.

The loss of swapping the UK's existing 4G equipment (with Huawei) to 5G without Huawei would be around 7 billion pounds ($8.7 billion), the Daily Telegraph reported, citing London-based analyst firm Assembly Research. The country's introduction to 5G would also be significantly slowed.

"The announcement on Thursday showed again that the UK has no intention to sacrifice its economic interest and future standings in the world of technology and innovation to accommodate the US' campaign to bring down Huawei," Ma said.

"The action taken by the UK, a member of the Five Eyes intelligence network, will also be taken reference by other countries in Europe," Ma said.


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