The US has been trying to rope in the other four countries from the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to encircle China’s Huawei Technologies. However, the UK National Cyber Security Center has recently determined that “there are ways to limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G.”
New Zealand also confirmed that Huawei hasn’t been ruled out of from playing a role in the development of the nation’s 5G network. FVEY once followed Washington’s opinion, but now the UK and New Zealand are taking different stands.
FVEY was established during the early stages of the Cold War and has a historical heritage. The five English-speaking nations share similarities in values and culture, but the mechanism itself along with its privileges are out of date.
Today, FVEY lacks strict organisation, management, and coordination. Although members of the alliance banned Huawei from the 5G network in 2018, it was not necessarily due to US demand, but rather the result of their own independent evaluations. Likewise, it is highly possible the UK and New Zealand have since changed their position after independent evaluations.
The UK, especially, carries a tradition of independent diplomacy. It will not do what Washington says. Take the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). In 2015, Washington urged other countries to think twice before joining in the China-led AIIB, but London chose to join despite US pressure. Although the UK is somewhat influenced by US decisions, it has its own evaluation system and will not blindly follow the same steps made by US leaders. The UK’s decision this time is an objective one made after a strict evaluation.
Washington has been hyping up the Huawei case. The US doesn’t want China to develop too rapidly in the high-tech sector, so it turns technology against Huawei. However, the UK and other Commonwealth countries do not have similar agenda. Consequently, national interests remain Britain’s top priority, rather than the latest US demands. This shows that not all Western countries are monolithic. They tend to consider their core interests first instead of stubbornly following the US’ lead.
The UK is an important country in the FVEY alliance. By 1955, the formal status of the five countries was officially acknowledged in a newer version of the UK-US agreement. Canada, Australia and New Zealand later joined the UK-US alliance. The UK’s statement should have a positive influence on the Commonwealth countries and to make them feel free to draw conclusions based on their national interests.
Canada, as another crucial member of the FVEY alliance, has been implicated in the Huawei case. A report by Canada’s Global News on February 18 said the UK’s approval of Huawei’s 5G network would give Canada some breathing room. Many analysts said that with Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s case, Canada is merely a US tool. However, the situation may not be so simple, as Ottawa wants to distance itself from Washington’s foreign policy. When facing the strategic importance of the 5G network, Canada should make its national interest a priority.
The FVEY countries need to admit that Huawei has its advantages in the 5G network race. As China’s technology giant, Huawei is not monopolistic. It still competes with high-tech companies worldwide. Political games will not obliterate Huawei’s competitive spirit.
When faced with political encirclement from other countries, Huawei will not be distracted. The company will remain true to its original aspirations and stick to providing high-quality communications services. We believe the market will eventually make a fair choice.