back to article Brit MPs, US senators ramp up pressure on UK.gov to switch off that green-light for Huawei 5G gear

A bipartisan coalition of US senators has urged Britain to reconsider its decision to permit "high-risk" vendors, namely China's Huawei, to supply non-core elements of the national 5G network. In a letter [PDF] signed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and 2016 …

  1. ExampleOne

    > Concern that letting Chinese giant in has left Blighty 'utterly friendless'

    I thought that ‘utterly friendless’ was a result of a government who thinks ‘give us what we want or we will walk away’ counted as negotiations, and which having got some of what it wanted in the last round is now trying to say that was not what they agreed!

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Welcome to the 21st century

      "In a letter [PDF] signed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and 2016 Presidential wannabe Ted Cruz (R-TX)..."

      Really, with "friends" like that, who needs enemies? The Americans are bent out of shape by the fact that a Chinese company is doing better than any American company. Welcome to the 21st century!

  2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Cisco or the NSA

    Is Cisco trying to stop people from buying from its much lower priced competitor or are the US spying agencies scared that people will buy kit without the US backdoors builtin,

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Cisco or the NSA

      A little from column A, a little from column B, plus some good old MAGA protectionism for good measure.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "utterly friendless among our allies"

    We don't need Chinese network gear to obtain that status.

    I also find it hypocritical when the government talks of human rights as Duncan Smith did in his speech when we are complicit through arms sales to Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses in Yemen and probably quite a few other places.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Control-freak USA again.

    Tell 'em to mind their own business and carry on with their Coronavirus shambles.

  5. cornetman Silver badge
    FAIL

    > "Imagine that in 1939 we had been developing our radar systems and decided to have one of the Nazi companies in Germany directly involved. Oh, but we reduced their involvement to 35 per cent, so they only controlled 35 per cent. I wonder how ridiculous that would have seemed,"

    WTF? Are we at war with China?

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      I was thinking that, but then thought, a better analogy would have been to change the date to (say) 1929 and see how it sounded then. It's easy to say with hindsight, knowing when the war kicked off, etc, but put yourself in a similar situation back then (i.e. with no imminent war on the known horizon), and it really wouldn't have seemed so bad.

      Now reading that back to myself, there's that niggle ... does IDS know something we ought to know ?

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        It's difficult to think of a major power back then that we might do business with that wasn't a real imminent threat on the world stage for one reason or another. Many of the nations that we regularly did trade with could have easily turned into a hostile power. Japan, Russia, China, much of Europe... which would you go for, or at least trust in any sense?

        So Germany kicked off in a big way. Japan also did the same when they thought there was something in it for them. It could so easily have been Russia. Perhaps less so China, but they were an aggressive power.

        Granted there were a lot of commentators at the time talking about the way we were treating Germany after WW1, foreshadowing war again, and we understand it so much better these days.

        1. Vulch

          Around then the smart money was actually on a war with the USA with them having used Ireland as a pretext to start something.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: change the date to (say) 1929

        To be honest, in 1929and through most of the 30s, both the UK and the US were falling over themselves to tell people what a terrific job Hitler was doing in pulling Germany out of its postwar disasters and setting it on the path to becoming a modern, 20th Century country. At that point we would happily have bought anything from him that promised technological superiority. Hell, DuPont even helped him on the way to toxicological supremacy, at the same time as Coca Cola were coming up with a new drink for Germany to throw down its collective neck.

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: change the date to (say) 1929

          I'm not a historian but wasn't one of the reasons that Germany inexorably heading back into war was the crippling reparations demanded following WW1?

          1. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: change the date to (say) 1929

            ... crippling reparations demanded following WW1

            It was. Germany had no money left to invest once it had paid its obligations, which led inexorably to the rampant inflation of the "take your money in a basket and bring your shopping home in a wallet" days which had the German population crying out for a leader who would offer them some sort of future. When Hitler coupled that promise with a pseudo historical Aryan greatness and destiny, it looked like not just a shining hope for the future, but also an affirmation of Germany taking its rightful place in leading the world.

            The social psychology behind the Nazi's rise to power is a fascinating study and gives an insight into how leaders from Kim Il Sung to Donald Trump can gain power simply by telling people they'll make it better.

            1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

              Re: change the date to (say) 1929

              " Kim Il Sung to Donald Trump can gain power simply by telling people they'll make it better."

              Vote for me for Hope & Change, said Obama. So ALL politicians, not just the ones you don't like...

              1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: change the date to (say) 1929

                Did I say I didn't like Kim Il Sung? I don't think so!

                Lovely lad - Eton educated. Probably.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: change the date to (say) 1929

          In 1929, the Nazis controlled a less than impressive 2% of the Reichstag. Hitler wasn't being credited with anything much. By 1933, when he actually gained power, it was already clear to most western politicians that he was a nasty piece of work whom it would be wise to hold at, at least, arms' length.

          Admittedly there was an influential faction of Nazi sympathisers in British (and American) high society, but to characterise that as the official position or policy of either government is a gross distortion.

          And Germany didn't need "dragging" into modernity, it was already a thoroughly modern power. No-one had seriously doubted that since 1870. The whole history of Europe for pretty much the whole of the 20th century can be summed up as "what to do about Germany".

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        IDS know something we ought to know ?

        No.

      4. Claverhouse Silver badge

        No, no he doesn't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WW3 won't be fought on the battlefield but over 5G therefore most places in the UK will be unaffected for the foreseeable future.

    3. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Evidence or it didnt happen

      unlike the USofA the entirety of the UK political establishment is not goverend by how much the requester donated to this or the next campaign.

      HCSEC has the code, they tested it, its full of holes, but nothing thats hidden.

      bearing in mind the amount of chinese made hardware in everyones kit, if the Middle kingdom wanted to they could probably put a backdoor in Cisco's ASICs

  6. HmYiss

    I remember...

    I remember when El Reg covered the opinions of movers and shakers in tech, instead of political dogshit peddlers.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I remember...

      What happens when political dogshit peddlers get involved in tech?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I remember...

        Bluetooth-enabled dog turds results...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I remember...

          so IOT devices?

        2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: I remember...

          Would those be for blockchain, er... logs...?

  7. veti Silver badge

    Trade deal?

    With the US?

    Not gonna happen this year. There's already a constituency in the senate threatening to block a deal over the treatment of Ireland, and now we add Huawei to the pretexts. Then consider that from about June onwards, the entire US gov't will be completely absorbed in campaigning for (re/)election. And the sheer folly of even talking to Donald Trump, who would sooner rat on a deal than eat his own hamburgers.

    Yeah... no. I don't know what fudge Johnson has in mind, but he'd better have something, because that deal is not happening.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Trade deal?

      I don't know what fudge Johnson has in mind

      The fudge tunnel?

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Trade deal?

        And so, yet again, we reach for the mind bleach.

        :)

  8. IGotOut

    Dear US protectionists

    FUCK OFF and mind your own business.

    Don't like it, well guess you'll have to find another partner to spy on your own citizens.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Dear US protectionists

      Speaking of protectionism, thats a nice NHS you've got there...

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Dear US protectionists

        "Speaking of protectionism, thats a nice NHS you've got there..."

        That's not protectionist. I know Americans are usually completely ignorant about foreign systems, but there is private healthcare in the UK. And it is used. We have a free, basic system, and a paid-for (or through insurance) extra system.

        Nothing is stopping US healthcare companies setting up shop in the UK. And indeed some have. But their price-gouging won't work here because we have another option.

        1. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: Dear US protectionists

          Indeed. However I was referring to the drug pricing situation.

          1. HarryBl

            Re: Dear US protectionists

            You mean the situation where one of the largest purchasers of drugs in the world uses their buying power to keep costs down as opposed to the US where profiteering kills people with outrageous drug prices?

            1. Glen 1 Silver badge

              Re: Dear US protectionists

              That too, but more like this stuff:

              Drug pricing legislation

              Sidenote: I think it is good thing. However decrying US protectionism, when we (UK) do stuff like this, is somewhat hypocritical.

              If only we were part of a larger trading block so we had greater collective bargaining power...

              1. HarryBl

                Re: Dear US protectionists

                I voted remain too but the buying power of the NHS is nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with the size of the NHS.

                The regulation that you're referring to aims to stop the practice of a company buying the production of a generic drug , often as the only supplier, changing its name and then legally jacking the price up by a thousand percent.

                1. Glen 1 Silver badge

                  Re: Dear US protectionists

                  Yes, a "protectionist" act. Also a moral one, but hey this is capitalism we're talking about.

                  Our weakened position outside of the EU makes the NHS more vulnerable to this kind of cash grab.

                  The US being able to (potentially) dictate terms in such an imbalanced way has *everything* to do with us no longer being in the EU.

                  Maybe you think Brexit Boris will have the spine to say no? or do you think having more of the NHS's budget being hoovered up by American companies for little gain is perfectly Ok?

                  If there were massive benefits on the table, it might be worth it, but so far the only thing being reported is potentially cheaper food at the cost of lowering our food standards and screwing over British farming.

  9. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    yanks desperate to retain market share

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      yanks desperate to retain market share

      Or just grow it. AFAIK, US market share in 5G kit is close to zero. It did better in 3/4G mainly thanks to Qualcomm's patents.

      But that's the real political challenge. Huawei makes 5G kit, other vendors don't, at least not in the volumes needed to meet pan-European/US 5G rollouts. And even where there are 'friendly' vendors, their kit is often made in China anyway. Or countries with other political/stability concerns. So China may finally decide to do a hostile takeover of Taiwan. Or the Middle East gets hotter and there's problems with ECI kit. Or Anglo-French relationships deteroriate over fish and takes out Alcatel.

      So the political solution is tricky. The EU or US could decide to support their tech sector to develop more 5G supply capacity, but that would delay roll-out, make the services more expensive, and probably invite WTO complaints wrt subsidisation or market distortion.

      1. mhenriday
        Boffin

        «The EU or US could decide to support their tech sector to develop more 5G supply capacity, but that would delay roll-out, make the services more expensive, and probably invite WTO complaints wrt subsidisation or market distortion.» Not to worry, by that time, the US government will have succeeded in its ongoing attempt to dismantle the WTO and bring us back to the kind of trade relations which obtained in the 1930s....

        Henri

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Not to worry, by that time, the US government will have succeeded in its ongoing attempt to dismantle the WTO and bring us back to the kind of trade relations which obtained in the 1930s....

          It's fine. Non-domestic International bodies can be ignored for administrative convenience. Unlike 1930's fashion, protectionism has never really gone away. Main thing that's changed has been the gradual realisation that technology transfer to other nations has it's downside. Especially when those nations have substantially larger populations than your own. It's a bell curve thing.

          When it gets warmer, I guess we could compete with the XR types and picket the DTI (remember them?) with placards to "Resurrect Marconi!" or "A Transputer for the 21st Century!".. Ok, maybe not that one, although HMG may have some dusty IP having been a large creditor. Kids these days have heard of Apple, less so our prior tech heritage.. :p

      2. Jonathon Green
        Devil

        ...and just guess where the WTO. Complaints would come from (c.f. Airbus).

  10. Technostica

    I seem to recall that resorting to Nazi references was considered one of the worst Internets cliches that retards resorted to.

    Now here we have an ex-leader of a right wing UK political party resorting to said tactic.

    Unfortunately that says an awful lot about the state of politics in said country.

    The real virus threat is not the coronavirus or computer viruses or even terrorism, but the viruses of ignorance, selfishness, greed, intolerance, insensitivity and plain stupidity.

    If you think Windows 10 running your system is retrograde, then look at the governmental systems running the major countries of the world to get a sense of just how bad retrograde can be.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      We seem to have a political class obsessed with re-living the glories of WW2 who were all born after WW2. All you need to be able pontificate on about it is consuming a load of post-war films, comics, and books in your formative years where plucky little England faced the enemy alone and won against all the odds and, for extra points, a private education where the clock is set about 50 years behind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "My Dad didn't fight the Germans in so that people could disagree with my narrow minded views ... ! "

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          [1 thumb down]

          Mark Francois obviosuly isn't amused.

    2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      "look at the governmental systems running the major countries of the world to get a sense of just how bad retrograde can be."

      So what do you suggest, Comrade?

  11. martinusher Silver badge

    Have a look at 5G in the US.....

    5G coverage in the US is to all intents and purposes non-existent and is likely to be so for some time. The US is trying to put the brakes on this technology because it really doesn't have any competitive offerings yet -- Qualcomm's got early devices out there and Intel's announced their solution but nothing is what you'd call ready for prime time. So all this wailing and gnashing of teeth is merely to gum up the works until the US is competitive. The US has also pledged $1billion to replace Chinese kit in use (it got a foothold becaue Huawei was prepared to service low volume rural providers that the Verizons of this world were not interested in) and has been floating suggestions of a homebrew effort or maybe buying Nokia and Ericsson to try to get some kind of competitive response together.

    It is a shambles and while I personally would like to have competitive local product (because people like me would like the work, thanks) I just don't see anything coming together -- the horse has bolted, the train's left the station and so on. Its a hard lesson but one that learned.

    (Meanwhile, looking on the bright side Xilinx has started becoming useful again. We use quite a lot of their parts, some of them quite old, but in the last couple of years they've been moving away from smaller (i.e. mid-sized) customers and cheaper (i.e. commercial) components towards high value parts for big customers (think Huawei). We've been getting the PoS treatment, long standing customer or not. Now the government has effectively shut off sales of their parts for Huawei's base stations we're suddenly able to get support, parts and generally treated like a customer again. However, since they've forced us to move to Lattice for new development its opened the door to competition so maybe it won't be just another case of an absive partner being tkaen back by submissive one.)

  12. moiety Silver badge

    Huawai or Cisco....can't see much difference security-wise except that the Chinese have to pay someone to translate. Mind you, making some "can't decide" noises now might get us a good deal on the Huawei kit.

    Fucking everybody off and building our own kit (presumably with our own backdoors) would be favourite; but that's probably not an option...

    1. SVV Silver badge

      Yes, whenever I'm haggling with suppliers to get the price down, I always pretend I can't decide between them by informing them that they're just like Nazi Germany.

      Trump just hates Huawei because he thinks it's where Barack Obama was born.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take back control

    Go on, England - take back control, and do what the USA tells you. That's what the majority of you voted for.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Take back control

      do what the USA tells you. That's what the majority of you voted for.

      I can see why you post anonymously!

  14. PhilipN Silver badge

    Why is it a risk?

    We buy the kit. We control the 1’s and 0’s, yes? Or at least can firewall them and/or disable malicious code?

    Yours enquiringly,

    A confused non-techie.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Why is it a risk?

      All fair questions. Trouble is, governments everywhere are full of confused non-techies who believe China will somehow be able to exfiltrate any data they want without being detected, just because Chinese (the horror!!) hardware is in our civillian networks. Conveniently oblivious to where most electronic gear is made these days, because it comes in a box with a non-Chinese name.

      1. moiety Silver badge

        Re: Why is it a risk?

        If you make the kit that does give you some extra low-level naughtiness options down at the chip level. Nothing that will go undetected forever; but possibly undetected for long enough. It's less obvious than software.

        The fear isn't that they would be broadcasting everything all the time...that would be silly and very obvious. The fear is that you have spent squillions on infrastructure (that by definition has to work all the time) that someone else possibly has some measure of control over. An off switch would be bad. But any sort of b0rking could cause massive damage.

        It'd be silly to put your entire country at risk to a potentially unfriendly power. As silly as -say- our government using Microsoft fucking Office.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Why is it a risk?

          It'd be silly to put your entire country at risk to a potentially unfriendly power

          But if we're going to say that, despite not being at war with China, we may be oneday, surely any random country can be considered potentially unfriendly?

          Even if we made all our kit ourselves (I know, no factories, no skills, but bear with me here), how could we be certain that, at some future stage, the Merseysiders who made our switchgear might not secede and start spying on us through our kettles?

          And no, we can't even trust gear made by our former EU partners. After all, whose Exocet missiles was it that made holes in all our plywood battleships?

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Why is it a risk? @DiViDeD

            Ah, Sheffield again.

            A Type 42 Destroyer which was not sunk by the Exocet that hit it and passed right through without exploding because it was not armored, but by the fire that the rocket motor caused in the flamable wiring insulation, which led to a complete power loss preventing the crew from fighting the fire.

            OK, it was a French missile, but in reality it could have been pretty much anything.

            You should really have quoted the Dassault Super Étendard or the Italian Aermacchi MB-339, but then they also used American Douglas A4 Skyhawk aircraft and even British Tigercat and Blowpipe missiles.

            Their navy also had two British designed (one of which was built in Britain) Type 42 destroyers like Sheffield, several ex-American cruisers, destroyers and submarines, and even an ex-British aircraft carrier!

            Countries without significant native arms industries tend to by their weapons from anybody who is prepared to sell to them!

            1. DiViDeD Silver badge

              Re: Why is it a risk? @Peter Gathercole

              Their navy also had two British designed (one of which was built in Britain) Type 42 destroyers

              So basically, as I was saying, don't to business with anyone, even ourselves, cos who knows when we'll turn on us!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British Empire Exceptionalism

    So at the behest of a country that annually celebrates its violent independence from us, to antagonise a country whom we drugged/gunboated into submission, and then held one of their regions for over 100 years.

    I didn't realise that regaining our sovereignty from the EU would mean that we would end up as a pawn in a proxy war....

  16. STGlove

    Really

    "Given the significant security, privacy, and economic threats posed by Huawei, we strongly urge the United Kingdom to revisit its recent decision, take steps to mitigate the risks of Huawei, and work in close partnership with the US on such efforts going forward," the American gang stated.

    As id the American can be trusted with our data and also their own...American Gov can hack everyone but complain bitterly when someone hacks them..

  17. Harry Kay

    Typical Yank bullying - if you want a deal with us or we don't like your attitude - then roll over and we'll tickle your tummy the American way. Use Yank kit or shut up. We should resist.

    How come that there seems no viable alternative to Huawei then - are potential competitors asleep or too bogged down in the short term financial returns for this longer term opportuntiy

  18. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    a letter signed by [...] Chuck Schumer (D-NY), [...] Richard Burr (R-NC) and [...] Ted Cruz (R-TX)

    See America, it is possible for your politicians to co-operate across party lines!

    All they need is a common cause, like keeping the US military-industrial complex profitable by meddling in another country's business.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One question for IDS, then..

    It is our understanding that the security and privacy risks surrounding Huawei technology

    Pray tell what they are, then? AFAIK, Britain's own GCHQ has had its nose in the source code of these facilities, so is IDS hereby declaring that he is going the Trump way, i.e. no longer trusting the advice of the government's own subject matter experts?

    I would trust those "partners" a lot less, because there is at least proof of their untrustworthiness.

    Note: I'm not for or against Huawei, I am for facts and truth over political BS, and so far, the US has not exactly covered itself in glory here.

  20. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Extra Bonus Point For The Gratuitous Nazi Slur

    Chuck Schumer

    Iain Duncan Smith

    The 2 biggest halfwits in their respective countries, along with the morose and shifty Ted Cruz... All it needs is the endorsement of Hillary in return for a few backhanders, and the master-plan will be complete !

  21. JamesNPA

    From their website: "Ericsson produces 5G and 4G radio technology products at the factory..." which is in Nanjing in China! Do Cisco make all their kit in USA?

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