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UK grants Huawei limited role in 5G networks, defying Trump

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LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday granted China's Huawei a limited role in Britain's 5G mobile network, resisting US pressure to exclude the company from next generation communications on fears that China could use it to steal secrets.

In the biggest test of his post-Brexit foreign policy to date, Mr Johnson ruled that "high-risk" vendors would be allowed into the "non-sensitive" parts of 5G networks, but their involvement would be capped at 35 per cent.

They would be excluded from the sensitive core of networks, where data is processed, and banned from all critical networks and sensitive locations such as nuclear sites and military bases, the government said.

The decision will dismay US President Donald Trump's administration, which fears China could use Huawei to steal secrets and has warned that if London gives Huawei a role, then it could scale back intelligence cooperation.

"This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons, and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now," Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Mr Johnson.

Huawei was not mentioned by name in the British government's statement, but British cyber security officials said they had always treated the company as a "high-risk" vendor.

"Huawei is reassured by the UK government's confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track," said Mr Victor Zhang, vice-president, Huawei.

"This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future." - REUTERS