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Huawei ships 40,000 5G base stations amid Western crackdown

Huawei has already shipped more than 40,000 5G base stations to telecoms operators operators around the world, despite a crackdown on its products in the West.

Speaking in London this morning (20 February) ahead of Mobile World Congress next week, Ryan Ding, the head of the Chinese tech giant’s carrier business, also announced that Huawei has signed more than 30 commercial 5G contracts. 

NS Tech understands that the largest number of Huawei base stations have been installed in South Korea, which has the world’s most advanced 5G infrastructure. But the company has also signed 18 commercial contracts with carriers in Europe and nine in the Middle East.

The announcement comes as the Trump administration draws up plans to ban US mobile operators from deploying Huawei’s 5G equipment and is putting pressure on its Western allies, including the UK, to do the same. 

The US has expressed concern in recent weeks about Chinese laws that would compel companies to assist with China’s intelligence operations. Huawei’s founder has said the company would resist such attempts, but it is not clear if there is a legal mechanism in place for the company to do so. Huawei has repeatedly stressed it operates independently of Beijing.

The Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think-tank, published a report this morning warning that Huawei products could not be trusted in the UK’s telecoms network. However, the findings appear to be at odds with the conclusion of a review by the National Cyber Security Centre, which believes that the risks can be managed. The Times reported today that a government source had said there were reservations in Whitehall about the NCSC’s conclusion.

The British government now has the unenviable task of weighing up the economic and political ramifications, in addition to security considerations, of restricting Huawei’s presence in the UK market. While it enjoys a close relationship with the US, it is also attempting to establish stronger ties to Beijing.

“[We are] actively [exploring] the possibility of discussing a top-notch free trade agreement between the two sides after Brexit,” a Chinese government spokesperson said last August.

The UK government is expected to publish its official stance on Huawei in the coming weeks.