China has hit out at the UK's decision to strip Huawei equipment from its 5G network, urging a “public and painful” revenge.
In a scathing editorial in the Global Times – a tabloid published by China's ruling Communist Party's main newspaper, People's Daily – the UK’s decision was blamed on “heavy pressure from Washington”.
Boris Johnson on Tuesday ordered telecoms firms to strip equipment from the Chinese tech giant out of 5G networks by 2027.
The move, which will delay the deployment of 5G technology by up to three years and add billions to the cost, came after the UK's experts warned that highly restrictive US sanctions meant the security of Huawei's equipment could not be guaranteed.
‘Necessary for China to retaliate’
Reacting to the move, the Global Times warned: “The UK's decision means huge economic loss for it… It's really not easy to say goodbye to Huawei.
“It's necessary for China to retaliate against UK, otherwise wouldn't we be too easy to bully?
“Such retaliation should be public and painful for the UK.”
Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, also blasted the move, tweeting: "Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on Huawei.
Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on #Huawei. It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries. https://t.co/fp1D9Yn2vt— Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) July 14, 2020
"It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.”
After a speech on China-Europe relations, Xiaoming added that trust between the two nations has been “seriously damaged”.
He said: “I think it firstly undermines the trust between the two countries. It’s not only disappointing, it’s disheartening.”
He praised the “good company” for having invested £2 billion in the UK, creating 28,000 jobs and having contributed “greatly” to the telecoms industry.
But he said the UK had acted to “simply dump” Huawei.
“It’s very disheartening. The way you treat Huawei will be followed very closely by other Chinese businesses,” he said.
“I think the trust is seriously damaged between the government-level and among the businesses.”
Huawei said it was disappointed by the move and claimed decisions on its future in the UK had become politicised.
The company's chief security officer Andy Purdy said the decision was "very bad news”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Andy Purdy said: "We think when you weigh the impact of things it's an even greater negative impact on Britain.
"A financial impact, an impact on the service, the equality of service between rural Britain and urban Britain.”
Huawei ban explained
From next year, telecoms firms will be banned from purchasing new 5G equipment from Huawei, and they will have to remove all the Chinese company's kit by 2027.
They are also expected to be ordered to shift away from the purchase of Huawei's equipment for full-fibre broadband networks over a period lasting up to two years.
The decisions were taken at a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Boris Johnson on Tuesday morning.
It followed an assessment of the impact of US sanctions by experts from the National Cyber Security Centre.
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In January, the firm had been given permission to play a limited role in the 5G network, but Downing Street insiders said the US sanctions, imposed in May, were a "game changer”.
The restrictions imposed by Donald Trump's administration removes Huawei's access to products that have been built based on US semiconductor technology.
The move takes place as the relationship with Beijing was already under strain over the imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong.
Trump takes credit
Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for having "convinced many countries" including the UK not to use Huawei.
The US president said: "I did this myself, for the most part," as he spoke of having worked to pressure nations to not use Huawei, adding: "If they want to do business with us, they can't use it."
However, health secretary Matt Hancock said "people can try to claim credit" for the Huawei ban but defended it as a "sensible, balanced decision”.
He told Sky News: "We all know Donald Trump, don't we? But I think this is a sensible decision.
"All sorts of people can try to claim credit for the decision but this was based on a technical assessment by the National Cyber Security Centre about how we can have the highest quality 5G systems in the future.
"There is that interaction with the US sanctions that the culture secretary set out and I think it's a sensible, balanced decision.”