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China says UK must suffer ‘public and painful’ retaliation for Huawei

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  • The UK must suffer a “public and painful’ retaliation for its decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network, Chinese state media said on Wednesday.
  • A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the UK’s decision would “come at a cost” to Britain, while describing the country as “America’s dupe.”
  • Boris Johnson’s government has repeatedly clashed with Beijing in recent weeks after offering 3 million Hong Kong citizens the right to live and work in the UK.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The UK must suffer a “public and painful” retaliation for its decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network, Chinese state media said on Wednesday, with a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry accusing Britain of becoming “America’s dupe.”

Boris Johnson’s government said on Tuesday that the UK will impose a ban on the purchase of all new 5G infrastructure from Huawei by December 31, with all existing equipment created by the Chinese firm removed by 2027.

The UK Culture Secretary Dowden told members of Parliament that the UK “can no longer guarantee the safety” of its deal with Huawei after the Donald Trump administration imposed major sanctions on the telecoms firm.

Johnson’s government has scrapped its deal with Huawei to build UK 5G amid growing opposition to the agreement from MPs in the prime minister’s own Conservative party, as well as pressure from the White House.

The UK insists that the decision to undo its agreement with Huawei was not designed to provoke China or damage London’s relationship with Beijing, with Johnson’s spokesperson on Tuesday saying that the UK wanted a “positive and constructive relationship.”

However, China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, on Wednesday morning said the move was “disappointing and wrong.”

Xiaoming tweeted: “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.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a press briefing on Wednesday that Britain’s decision would “come at a cost,” to the country, adding that the UK had become “America’s dupe.”

Beijing has suggested that UK companies with operations in China, which include BP, Jaguar Land Rover, and Glaxosmithkline, will receive harsher treatment in light of Huawei being phased out of UK networks.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said “it’s a litmus test for the direction where the UK market would go after Brexit, and whether the UK businesses in China will be provided with an open, fair, and non-discriminate environment,” The Times of London reports.

An editorial in Chinese state media suggested that Beijing would “retaliate” against the UK, which it described as a “weak link.”

“It’s necessary for China to retaliate against the UK, otherwise wouldn’t we be too easy to bully? Such retaliation should be public and painful for the UK,” an editorial in Chinese state news organisation The Global Times stated.

However, they added that “it’s unnecessary to turn it into a China-UK confrontation because “The UK is not the US, nor Australia, nor Canada. It is a relative ‘weak link’ in the Five Eyes.”

“In the long run, the UK has no reason to turn against China, with the Hong Kong issue fading out.”

The US had previously urged the UK to cut ties with Huawei, warning that a deal with the company would give China a back door into Western intelligence sharing. The issue was a point of contention, with President Trump once said to have hung up on Johnson in an “apoplectic” phone call.

The US sanctions were designed to stop Huawei from using US-produced equipment to make semiconductors, creating concern in London that the firm would use alternative technology with an additional security risk.

Johnson’s official spokesman on Tuesday said sanctions imposed on Huawei this year by the Trump administration were a “game-changer” that meant the UK had no choice but to change course.

The decision will delay the rollout of 5G across the UK by at least two years, Dowden told MPs on Tuesday, while creating additional costs of up to £2 billion, or $2.5 billion.

The row is the latest in a series of clashes between the two countries, with China threatening retaliation for Boris Johnson’s promise to offer up to 3 million Hong Kong citizens the right to live in the UK.

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