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Huawei goes on UK media blitz as government reviews its 5G role

A logo is pictured on a Huawei NetEngine 8000 Intelligent Metro Router during a 5G event in London, on February 20, 2020.

Isabel INFANTES | AFP

Huawei has bought full-page adverts in several British newspapers in an effort to push back on fears over its role in the country’s deployment of 5G.

“For nearly 20 years, we’ve supplied the U.K.’s mobile  and broadband companies with 3G and 4G,” Huawei says in the ad. “But some now question our role in helping Britain lead the way in 5G.”

The ad appeared in most of Britain’s national newspapers, including The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times, Mirror, Sun and Daily Mail. It has also been featured in regional newspapers.

According to their websites, The Guardian and Daily Telegraph charge £18,000 ($23,000) and £46,000 respectively for full-page print adverts.

Huawei said its ad campaign would also feature in business publications, digital platforms and newsletters.

Huawei’s full-page ad featured in several British newspapers on Monday.

Huawei

The Chinese tech giant’s media blitz arrives as it faces fresh attacks from politicians over its involvement in Britain’s 5G rollout. The technology, which replaces 4G as the next generation of mobile internet, has been one of many issues at play in the U.S. trade war with China.

At the start of the year, the U.K. government designated Huawei a “high-risk vendor,” allowing it to play a restricted role in the launch of 5G. The move meant Huawei could only provide non-core telecom equipment such as antennas and base stations, rather than the core infrastructure where data is stored and routed.

But last month, the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), part of intelligence agency GCHQ, launched an emergency review of Huawei’s 5G role. The move came after the U.S. introduced new sanctions on the firm.

Though the government decided to put a 35% cap on Huawei’s 5G network supply, it has been reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed officials to draw up plans to reduce China’s involvement in the U.K.’s infrastructure to zero by 2023.

However, ministers have said it would be “impossible” to remove all of Huawei’s technology by 2023. Instead, they reportedly say they’re discussing plans to prohibit the purchase and installation of new equipment from 2023. Huawei, for its part, said reports that it could be ditched by the U.K. “don’t make sense.”

“Today’s letter underlines Huawei’s ongoing commitment to improving connectivity for everyone in the U.K.,” Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said in a statement. “As a private company, 100% owned by employees, our priority has been to help mobile and broadband companies build a better connected U.K.”

The firm hopes to tackle the “noise” that has been made over its 5G technology. Its U.K. ad campaign had been in the works for around two months, but was held back due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is set to continue over the next three weeks.

President Donald Trump’s government has been pressuring the U.K. to ban Huawei. Last week, Senator Tom Cotton (R – Ark.) told the British Parliament’s defense committee that China was using Huawei to “drive a hi-tech wedge” in the U.K.-U.S. “special relationship.”

Washington has flagged security concerns with Huawei, the world’s top telecom equipment maker, claiming its gear could be used by Beijing for spying. Huawei has repeatedly denied such allegations.

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