On 29 July 2020, South China Morning Post carried an article by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming entitled by “Banning Huawei, Britain is turning its back on a 5G-dominated future”. The full text is as follows:
Banning Huawei, Britain Is Turning Its Back on a 5G-Dominated Future
The British government’s recent decision to remove Huawei from its 5G networks is disappointing and disheartening, because I believe refusing Huawei is refusing opportunities, refusing growth and refusing the future.
Over 200 years ago, China missed the historic opportunity of the First Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain, and learned a lesson the hard way. Now, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, with fifth-generation mobile networks as key infrastructure, Britain runs the risk of missing the opportunity to take part or take the lead in this thriving new development because it is turning its back on Huawei.
This means rejecting the most innovative company and most advanced technology in 5G. The result will be much slower development of the 5G industry in Britain.
Huawei is a microcosm of growing Chinese investment in Britain, which in the past 10 years alone has increased by 20 times and enabled Chinese and British companies to work closely together to achieve innovation and common development. As Britain strives to achieve full 5G and fibre coverage by 2025, Huawei would have been a great help.
Britain has been presented with an opportunity to match up its strengths in talent, technology and creative ideas with Huawei’s strong manufacturing capabilities and outstanding research team to take the lead in the era of 5G. However, this invaluable opportunity has been rejected.
There is no doubt 5G will create new impetus for global growth. This is particularly true given the economic impact of Covid-19 on the world, including Britain, that has resulted in the most severe recession in decades. Post-pandemic economic recovery is a daunting task for all countries.
In 20-plus years since coming to Britain, Huawei has brought in more than £3 billion (US$3.86 billion) in procurement and investment, created 26,000 jobs and established five research centres, making enormous contributions to the development of the telecommunications industry, economic growth and social progress in the country.
In 2018, the company announced a further investment plan of £3 billion in the next five years, which is a positive vote for growth in Britain. Unfortunately, this will now be subject to uncertainties in light of the British government’s recent decision.
This decision, in addition to hampering growth, also comes with a bill which will inevitably be paid by consumers. British telecommunications operators estimate that removing Huawei equipment from their networks would cost billions of pounds and result in a delay of at least two to three years and an extra cost of £6.8 billion in Britain’s 5G roll-out.
Moreover, there is the risk of missing a share of the development bonus of China, the world’s most vigorous and fastest-growing market and a major powerhouse for world economic growth for 14 years in a row. China welcomes all countries, including Britain, aboard the fast train of its development.
However, Britain is choosing to turn down this offer despite the urgent need to accelerate innovation and jump-start economic recovery to build a future for generations to come.
Now, that future is not coming any nearer. 5G technology has a bearing on every aspect of the future of mankind. As a symbol of the new round of scientific and technological revolution, 5G – combined with cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain – will unleash enormous progress in the Internet of Things, human-computer interaction and transformation led by smart technology.
It will fast-forward the digitalisation of traditional industries and create new and robust impetus for future global growth. It is estimated that, by 2035, 5G will drive up global economic output by US$13.2 trillion and create 22.3 million jobs.
China has stepped into the era of 5G. In the fight against Covid-19, 5G has played an important role in China in remote diagnosis and treatment, quick and high-quality patient services, and better safeguards for medical workers.
It has also facilitated the contactless economy during the pandemic, which is a vivid illustration of the important value and promise of 5G as network infrastructure. By the end of this year, there will be more than 600,000 5G base stations and 200 million 5G users in China.
Going forward, 5G will drive the “smart” trend in transport, agriculture, medical care, education and urban management, and bring a complete transformation to industrial production and daily life.
Huawei is a leader in 5G. Britain could either choose to cooperate with Huawei and gain an edge in the era of the digital economy, or refuse such cooperation and give up leadership in a 5G-dominated future.
History does not wait for the hesitant. In the face of the overwhelming trend of 5G development, countries must respect each other, remain open and choose cooperation to build a bright future together.
I hope visionary people in Britain will see the big picture of Chinese-British cooperation, bear in mind the well-being of the peoples of the two countries, listen to reasonable voices and make a wise choice on Huawei so as to embrace opportunities, embrace growth and embrace the future.