On July 14, 2020, the United Kingdom announced that it will ban Huawei Technologies, Co. Ltd. (“Huawei”) equipment from its 5G network. Effective December 31, 2020, Telecoms operators in the UK can no longer purchase Huawei equipment and have until 2027 to remove Huawei technology from their networks, with broadband companies receiving an additional two years to do so. The older 2G, 3G, and 4G networks will not need to have existing Huawei equipment removed.
The UK’s decision arrives after UK intelligence determined that they could no longer be confident in the security of the new equipment provided by Huawei. This announcement marks a change in policy from six months ago, when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously agreed that Huawei could take up to a 35 percent share of the 5G market.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that this decision by the UK’s decision “advances Transatlantic security in the [5G] era while protecting citizens’ privacy, national security, and free-world values.” Secretary Pompeo also announced that the U.S. Department of State will impose visa restrictions on Huawei employees, which, according to Secretary Pompeo, are meant to punish complicity in human rights abuses. Specifically, the new U.S. visa restrictions on Huawei employees allege that Huawei is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party’s “surveillance state” in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Additionally, Huawei and 114 of its affiliate companies remain subject to extensive export restrictions due to their designation on the U.S. Commerce Department – Bureau of Industry and Security’s “Entity List” while the Commerce Department continues to finalize forthcoming “foreign adversary” rules which will likely restrict the use of Huawei equipment and services in various U.S. information and communications technology or services (“ICTS”) transactions.