UK should safeguard autonomy with Huawei 5G decision
Published: Aug 12, 2019 09:00 PM
Why does it matter so much whether the United Kingdom heeds the call from the US to ban Huawei? It's an issue of whether the UK can safeguard its independent decision-making. The diplomatic autonomy of the UK is being tested once again as John Bolton, US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, arrived in London on Sunday for talks at which he will reportedly urge Britain to take a tougher line on the Chinese tech giant. 

Britain has been under mounting pressure from the US to bar Huawei from the UK's future 5G networks since Washington launched a crackdown on the Chinese tech firm. Accusing Huawei of presenting an espionage threat, the US is pushing its allies to act against the company. However, Washington has failed to provide any convincing evidence. An increasing number of international observers have recognized that the US targeting Huawei is politically motivated, with the purpose of impeding China's high-tech development. This is part of the US plan for stepped-up containment of China's rise.  

Does Huawei really pose a security risk to the UK? The Science and Technology Committee of the UK Parliament in July concluded there was no evidence to suggest that banning Huawei from UK telecom networks would constitute a proportionate response to any potential security threats.

If London yields to Washington's pressure and excludes Huawei from its 5G rollout, it is anything but a decision made out of economic or security considerations. Instead China will take it as a sign of the UK's will to take sides with the US in containing China, an unaffordable idea for the UK. 

To build a China-UK global comprehensive strategic partnership, with the UK representing China's best partner in the West, is in the interests of both countries. It's of particular importance for the Boris Johnson government, which is pushing ahead with the UK's departure from the European Union. 

China is the world's second-largest economy and one of Britain's largest trading partners. The two countries have extensive cooperation potential in fields including economics, trade, finance and education. Deepening cooperation with China can hedge against the risks brought on by Brexit. 

The UK as a major global power should decide independently and in accordance with its own national interests about whether to heed the US call to ban Huawei. 

Although Britain, one of the most important allies of the US, traditionally supported the US in many issues, that doesn't mean it has to follow suit every time and to the cost of its own interests. As an influential major global power and permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK should be able to resist US pressure and not allow the US to influence its decision-making. 

The US attempt to contain China's rise is doomed to fail in an era of globalization. There is no reason for the UK to become an accomplice to a futile effort and be caught up between China and the US. 

Canada has been paying a heavy price for its decision to arrest Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, at the request of the US. This is actually a warning to other US allies including the UK. Blindly following the US in dealing with Huawei in particular and China in general will cost countries their strategic initiative and sound relations with China.  

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