American officials have argued that 5G networks are much more complex than existing systems, and that the many lines of constantly updating code make the systems nearly impossible to protect entirely.
Peter Chase, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund specializing in trans-Atlantic policy, said that a determination by British officials that Huawei could be handled as a manageable risk would undercut the argument that the company posed an existential risk.
“They’ve made a pretty hardheaded evaluation that the United States was exaggerating the extent of the problem,” said Mr. Chase, a former American diplomat to London. “I don’t think they did that to please the Chinese.”
In his speech in Brussels, Mr. Martin said cybersecurity risks were not confined to one company.
“The supply chain, and where suppliers are from, is one issue, but it is not the only issue,” he said. Last year, he added, his organization “publicly attributed some attacks on U.K. networks, including telecoms networks, to Russia.”
“As far as we know, those networks didn’t have any Russian kit in them, anywhere,” he said.
The dispute over what risk the company presents has complicated Britain’s efforts to avoid becoming entangled in the trade war between the United States and China. As it prepares to exit the European Union, Britain is seeking new trade deals with both Washington and Beijing.
China is a small but growing trade partner with Britain. Businesses exported a record 22.3 billion pounds, about $28.8 billion, worth of goods to China in 2017, making it Britain’s sixth-largest trading partner. The United States is the largest, accounting for £112.2 billion worth of exports in 2017, according to a report from Parliament this month.