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UK in 5G talks with suppliers from Japan, South Korea -source

Wed, 3rd Jun 2020 22:59

LONDON, June 3 (Reuters) - British officials have discussed
supplies of 5G networking equipment with companies in South
Korea and Japan as part of a bid to develop alternatives to
China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a person with
knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The source said the talks with Japan's NEC Corp and
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which were
first reported by Bloomberg, are part of a government plan
announced last year to diversify Britain's range of 5G
suppliers.

A government spokeswoman was not immediately available for
comment after normal working hours in London. NEC and Samsung
were not immediately available outside normal business hours.

Britain designated Huawei a "high-risk vendor" in January,
capping its 5G involvement at 35% and excluding it from the
data-heavy core of the network.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under renewed
pressure from the United States and lawmakers in his own party,
who say Huawei's equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Ties between the United Kingdom and China have also grown
tense since Britain's decision on Huawei over Beijing's handling
of the situation in Hong Kong and the COVID-19 pandemic.

London is now looking at the possibility of phasing Huawei
out of its 5G network completely by 2023, officials say, and
pushing forward with plans to develop a range of alternative
suppliers.

Security officials are also looking at the impact of new
U.S. sanctions which limit the Chinese company's ability to
produce the microchips needed for its equipment.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton told UK lawmakers on Tuesday that
China was using Huawei "to drive a hi-tech wedge" between
Britain and the United States.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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