‘America’s Dupe’: China Threatens British Businesses After Decision to Ban Huawei

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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has lashed out after the United Kingdom’s decision to ban Huawei equipment from the nation’s 5G network, warning that British businesses may suffer consequences and that the move demonstrated that the UK is “America’s dupe”.

After months of waffling and prevarication on the Huawei issue, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government announced on Tuesday that the UK will be banning new equipment from the Chinese tech firm from British 5G networks and that all components must be removed by 2027. The move followed increasing pressure from other Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance states (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States) over concerns about security risks posed by the company which is considered “effectively state-owned”.

Following the announcement, the foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing, Zhao Lijian, seemingly threatened British businesses that operate in the communist country, including BP, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, InterContinental Hotels, and Jaguar Land Rover, according to The Times.

“It’s a litmus test for the direction where the UK market would go after Brexit, and whether the UK businesses in China will be provided with an open, fair, and non-discriminate environment,” Mr Zhao said.

An opinion piece from the Global Times — one of the more belligerent Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces — went further, warning that it is “necessary for China to retaliate against [the] UK”, adding that “such retaliation should be public and painful for the UK”.

“But it’s unnecessary to turn it into a China-UK confrontation. The UK is not the U.S., nor Australia, nor Canada. It is a relative ‘weak link’ in the Five Eyes. In the long run, the UK has no reason to turn against China, with the Hong Kong issue fading out,” the Chinese propaganda outlet added.

The Global Times pronounced that the “UK’s decision is obviously the result of heavy pressure from Washington”.

On Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, echoed this rhetoric, labelling the United Kingdom “America’s dupe”, saying that the UK acted “in coordination with the U.S. to discriminate against, suppress and eliminate [Huawei]”.

“China will fully and solemnly assess this matter, and will take a series of necessary measures to safeguard Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests,” Hua warned.

The move to ban Huawei equipment was praised by U.S. President Donald Trump, who accused the Chinese telecom of being “unsafe”.

“We convinced many countries, many countries — and I did this myself for the most part — not to use Huawei because we think it’s an unsafe security risk, it’s a big security risk,” President Trump said.

Indiana Republican Congressman Jim Banks also hailed the move, specifically thanking “Nigel Farage et al. who forced this issue from the beginning!”

“I’m glad all our Five Eyes partners have taken steps to block Huawei, but we still need Canada and New Zealand to join the U.S., UK and Australia in pledging a full ban of Huawei equipment for their #5G networks,” Banks added.

Some in the UK feel that the goal of banning Huawei tech from the 5G infrastructure by 2027 is not soon enough, however.

On Tuesday, Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage said: “This is a partial victory. ‘No’ to Huawei is great, but we cannot wait until 2027 for removal of the kit.”

China hawk and former Conservative Party leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, warned that BT and other British telecoms have a “stockpile” of Huawei equipment that will be permitted to be rolled out and used during the years leading up until 2027.

The existing legislation “means Huawei will be in our 5G system all the way up to 2027. So that’s not quite what we were expecting,” Duncan Smith said in an interview with talkRADIO on Tuesday.

Sir Iain also demanded that the British government review the status of Chinese involvement in the UK’s nuclear energy sector, which first began under David Cameron’s government. Smith warned that China represented a threat to the free world, and therefore Britain should review all areas of national security in which there is Chinese involvement.

“If you think you can turn a blind eye to a country’s appalling treatment of both the people in its own home territory and its aggression abroad then you buy what we learnt years ago – a problem which is bigger and bigger as the years go by,” Duncan Smith told Sky News on Monday.

“We learnt this back in the 1930s, we have to think again now we are facing a very similar problem,” he warned.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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