Britain’s NSC to discuss Huawei today

Britain’s PM Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. The US has been ‘grappling with China’s rising technological clout.’ (Reuters/File)
Short Url
Updated 14 July 2020

Britain’s NSC to discuss Huawei today

  • Washington has pushed UK to reverse decision to grant the company a limited role in 5G

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to ban Huawei from Britain’s 5G network in a landmark decision that will anger Beijing but win plaudits from President Donald Trump as the United States grapples with China’s rising economic and technological clout.

The United States has pushed Johnson to reverse his January decision to grant Huawei a limited role in 5G, while London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong and by the perception that China did not tell the whole truth over coronavirus.

Britain’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, will meet on Tuesday to discuss Huawei. Media Secretary Oliver Dowden will announce a decision to the House of Commons later in the day. The government has not provided a time.

The immediate excuse for the about-turn in policy is the impact of new US sanctions on chip technology, which London says affects Huawei’s ability to remain a reliable supplier.

It is unclear how far Johnson will go on Tuesday. Telecoms firms already had to cap Huawei’s role in 5G at 35 percent by 2023. Reducing it to zero over an additional two to fours years is now being discussed, although operators have warned that going too fast could delay key technology and disrupt services.

Asked about Huawei in June, Johnson said he would protect critical infrastructure from “hostile state vendors.” Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said on Monday the “priority” would be national security.

The United States says Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is an agent of the Chinese Communist State and cannot be trusted.

Huawei denies it spies for China and has said the United States wants to frustrate its growth because no US company could offer the same technology at a competitive price.

The United States is worried that 5G dominance is a milestone toward Chinese technological supremacy that could define the geopolitics of the 21st century.

Angering China just as Britain extracts itself from the European Union will put London firmly back on the side of its closest ally, the United States.

It would also mark the end of what former Prime Minister David Cameron cast as a “golden era” in ties with China.

China’s ambassador to Britain has said a U-turn on Huawei would damage Britain’s image and it would have to “bear the consequences” if it treated China as a hostile country.


Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

Updated 13 August 2020

Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

  • Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months

JEDDAH: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity is plunging in lockstep with Turkey’s collapsing economy and the country is on the verge of a potentially devastating recession, financial experts have told Arab News.
The value of the Turkish lira has fallen to 7.30 against the US dollar and the central bank has spent $65 billion to prop up the currency, according to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months as the government moved to help families during the coronavirus pandemic, but the result has been a surge in inflation to 12 percent.
With the falling lira and increased price of imported goods, the living standards of many Turks who earn in lira but have dollar debts have fallen sharply.
The economy is expected to shrink by about 4 percent this year. The official unemployment rate remains at 12.8 percent because layoffs are banned, although many experts say the real figures are far higher.
To complete the perfect storm, tourism revenues and exports have been decimated by the pandemic, and foreign capital has fled amid fears over economic trends and the independence of the central bank.
Wolfango Piccoli, of Teneo Intelligence in London, said logic dictated an increase in interest rates but “this is unlikely to happen.”
Piccoli said central bank officials would strive to avoid an outright rate hike at their monetary policy meeting on Aug. 20. “A mix of controlled devaluation and backdoor policies, such as limiting Turkish lira’s liquidity, remains their preferred approach,” he said.
There is speculation of snap elections, and Erdogan’s view is that higher interest rates cause inflation, despite considerable economic evidence to the contrary.