Britain will reportedly allow China's Huawei Technologies to play a limited role in the development of its 5G network, rejecting warnings from the United States and senior U.K. officials the move could enhance China's spying capabilities.
The decision, first reported Wednesday by the Daily Telegraph, was made at a meeting Tuesday of Britain's National Security Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May. The British newspaper reported May will allow Huawei to build 'non-core' parts of the network such as antennas.
The next-generation technology will provide faster service and link more devices to the Internet.
The report did not provide a source of the information, but a security source and another person told Reuters that Britain would block Huawei from all core parts of the network and restrict the company's access to non-core parts of its infrastructure. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. has told allies not to use Huawei's technology because of fears the company could be a channel for Chinese spying. Huawei, the world's largest producer of telecommunications equipment, has said those concerns are not warranted.
Despite the media reports, Britain's minister of state for digital and the creative industries, Margot James, said the British government has not made a final decision. 'In spite of cabinet leaks to the contrary, the final decision had not been made,' she tweeted.
May's reported move comes despite concerns raised by Home Secretary Sajid Javid and other top government officials. May's Downing Street office declined to comment on the reports.
Huawei welcomed the media reports even though the British government has not confirmed them. 'Huawei welcomes reports that the U.K. government is moving towards allowing Huawei to help build the U.K.'s 5G network,' it said in a statement. 'The green light means that U.K. businesses and consumers will have access to the fastest and most reliable networks thanks to Huawei's cutting edge technology.'
The U.S. is worried that 5G dominance by Huawei would give China an advantage. European countries are being pressured by the U.S. to take a hard line approach toward Huawei. Those countries are reluctant to get involved in the dispute between the world's two largest economies, as they wish to maintain solid trading and diplomatic relations with China.