Boris Johnson is planning to reduce Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks in the wake of the coronavirus, the Daily Telegraph has reported.
The prime minister is expected to reduce reliance on China in the coming years as a means to boost relations elsewhere. Trade talks with US president Donald Trump will be of paramount importance in the aftermath of the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Plans are due to be drawn up to phase out China’s input in British infrastructure to zero by 2023, according to the report released late Friday.
Conservative backbench MPs have previously rebelled against decisions to involve Huawei in infrastructure.
Although Johnson has a majority of 80, the ranks of backbenchers willing to rebel on the issue is now estimated to be around 50 - enough to defeat the government.
In January, the telecoms equipment maker was granted a seat at the table in 5G development of what the UK government called non-sensitive parts of the network.
The government capped its involvement at 35%. The most recent development would be a change in direction for the UK.
The US has previously raised security concerns about the use of Huawei equipment, warning allies that use of it in their networks means they face being cut off from intelligence feeds.
As the coronavirus has spread around the world, China has been accused of not being transparent about the early stages of the spread of the virus. Beijing denies these allegations.
Downing Street declined requests for comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.