The United Kingdom has made the wrong choice on Huawei
Tom Fowdy
The logo of 5G network in London, Britain, May 30, 2019. /Xinhua

The logo of 5G network in London, Britain, May 30, 2019. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the U.S. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On July 6 it was revealed in British newspapers that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to formally reverse his decision on Huawei and ban its participation in Britain's 5G internet network, caving in to an internal rebellion with the Conservative Party that has demanded its exclusion on a given timescale.

As reported, the change of course will be justified via a security assessment which is set to claim that because of American sanctions on the Shenzhen company concerning key components, the firm will be forced to use less trusted parts which will allegedly compromise the security of the network.

Not surprisingly, British newspapers and commentators cheered the decision. However, in the heat of anti-Huawei hysteria that has been whipped up by the United States and peddled by the mainstream media uncritically, they feel to acknowledge the economic and technological ramifications for the country.

This move will not make Britain better off. Instead, it will cost the taxpayer and phone companies billions to replace, it will reduce the size of the market, push up costs and cut the United Kingdom off from leading technology and alienate the UK from another major economic power. It's a lose-lose scenario.

Huawei has participated in the telecommunications networks of the United Kingdom for 15 years, having first signed agreements with Vodafone and BT in 2005. For such a long and well-established record, it is quite obvious that there were no problems, no controversies and the UK government was ultimately never inclined to believe the company was a security threat.

Such a contrast demonstrates how the relentless bullying of the United States in targeting the company were able to suddenly transform it into an "issue" of concern after 14-15 years of market participation, whip up public fear and hostility and in turn, tie it in with a broader anti-China agenda to manufacture consent for its removal.

It was equally telling in turn, that despite this, Boris Johnson and British security services did not buy the claim the company was a threat and recognized the obvious fallouts of pushing it out of British telecommunications markets. Boris Johnson stated that he wished for Britain to have access to the best possible technology, and did not want to violate his pledges on broadband. It goes without saying that the previous assessment did not believe it was a threat, which has led this new assessment to blame the impact of American sanctions (aggression in and of itself) as the underlying case of the so-called security risk.

People visit the booth of China's telecoms company Huawei during the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2019 held in Budapest, Hungary, September 10, 2019. /Xinhua

People visit the booth of China's telecoms company Huawei during the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2019 held in Budapest, Hungary, September 10, 2019. /Xinhua

The costs on Britain will be significant. One study cited in the Guardian stated the fallout of banning Huawei could cost the taxpayer up to five billion pounds, and delay the country's 5G rollout for up to 18 months.

But there are longer ramifications too. By cutting out the cheapest and most effective vendor in a given market, you are forcefully shrinking that market and driving up the prices. Having relied on Huawei for so long, it will cost telecommunications firms a fortune and as a result lead to more expensive internet prices within the country. Huawei was not only more cost competitive than Ericsson and Nokia, but was all round better in the quality of the product.

The geopolitical ramifications of such a move will be also against the benefit of the United Kingdom. London is making a poorly thought out strategic choice to alienate itself from both the European Union and China simultaneously, whilst tilting towards the disastrous and unhinged administration in the United States, who is making spurious demands which include the lowering of UK food quality standards and the removal of country of origin labels.

Severely damaged through the government's catastrophic mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, of which unjustly led to a "China blame game," one must seriously question the country's future prosperity and economic prospects.

As a whole, Huawei is a subject which has been completely deprived of reason and cost-benefit assessments. It is a company that has suffered from a highly organized and politically motivated character assassination on a global scale, which has unfairly forced it out of markets where it had a longstanding record of credibility, trust and a high-quality product.

The right wing of the Conservative Party have subsequently used the fallout from the COVID-19 to coerce a change in the government's position, forcing Boris Johnson to make a decision which he abundantly made clear was not in the national interest to do so.

They may not realize it themselves, but the British taxpayers and consumers are undoubtedly the losers, baited and hooked by one of the most audacious propaganda pushes since the Iraq War.

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