Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 July 2020

Huawei: what's behind Johnson's latest u-turn?

Huawei, photo Brücke-Osteuropa/CC

Huawei, photo Brücke-Osteuropa/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party national committee

Boris Johnson has made a u-turn on Huawei's 5G internet technology - announcing a ban on new use from 31 December, and a total phase-out by 2027.

Previously, Johnson had supported the Chinese telecom giant's products - albeit limited to 35% of 'non-core' parts of the UK's 5G network. (See 'Johnson's Huawei internet deal underlines world trade tensions', 29 January)

Donald Trump took to Twitter to boast of his role in having "convinced many countries," including the UK, to ban Huawei. Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, acknowledged that Trump's block on Huawei using US-manufactured components had changed the situation.

Pressure has been exerted by British capitalism's allies in the 'Five Eyes' international intelligence network, such as the US and Australia - which Johnson wants to strike quick trade deals with following Brexit.

World polarisation

Behind Johnson's decision is world capitalism's growing polarisation into competing blocs, with the two main trends led by the US and China. Smaller capitalist powers, especially declining British capitalism, are having a difficult time trying to navigate a middle position between the two.

Substantial sections of the Tory party have opposed deepening Chinese investment in strategic sectors of the British economy.

The most hard-line fringe elements of the Tory party imagine they can recapture British capitalism's lost imperial past. But opposition also includes Tory establishment grandees like Chris Patten, former party chair and governor of Hong Kong, who had been urging a change of attitude towards China.

The 'China Research Group' was formed by mostly backbench Tories in April. It is somewhat modelled in the image of the right-wing Brexiteer 'European Research Group'- but contains substantial numbers of more establishment Tories too.

For example, Damien Green, Theresa May's former number two. His concerns link to unease about the role of the Chinese state in Chinese companies, security of British strategic assets, and being out of step with Five Eyes allies.

After this victory on Huawei, the China Research Group has already announced its next target: China's involvement with the nuclear industry, another strategic sector.

Capitalist consequences

But u-turns like this will have consequences for the capitalists and their politicians. China is British capitalism's third-largest trading partner, after the EU and US, accounting for 5% of all trade. And Dowden has suggested the ban will delay the introduction of 5G by two to three years - at an extra cost of £2 billion.

Increased tensions put British firms with significant trading relations with China in a more difficult position too, as the most likely to face any Chinese retaliation. British banks Standard Chartered and HSBC make half and two-thirds of their profits respectively in Hong Kong and China.

Both have decided to support the draconian new Hong Kong security law which gives the dictatorial Chinese state more powers to intervene there. Meanwhile, Johnson's (hypocritical) response has been to extend citizenship rights to many Hong Kong people, and move to suspend the UK's extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

It is not just British capitalism that faces difficult decisions around this issue. Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has to come to a decision on Huawei's 5G involvement in the autumn. Her Christian Democrats are split on the issue like the Tories here. However, Germany is already more integrated with China, both in regards to telecom technology and trade more generally.

Wishful thinking?

Some capitalist commentators have latched onto the lengthy implementation dates as preparation for a possible further u-turn if Trump is forced out of office in the forthcoming presidential election.

As the Financial Times comments: "Some in Washington are privately concerned that the UK move to set a December deadline was chosen in the hope that Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, would beat Mr Trump in the November election and take a softer stance on Huawei."

But it would be wishful thinking on the part of British capitalism to imagine there is any way Biden can have the US, the biggest but declining imperial power, avoid confrontation with the rising competition from China.

As we commented back in January: "What the saga shows is that there is no plain sailing for the Tory government trying to navigate the trading seas post-Brexit in an increasingly volatile period for world relations."

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 22 July 2020:


Fight for our livelihoods... fight for our lives!

Fight for the NHS

Huawei: what's behind Johnson's latest u-turn?

Mandatory masks in shops law: workers must not pay the price

Luton Council sunk by airport investment: fight for funding, not speculation!

Tories using pandemic to privatise NHS more

Them & Us


Hugely significant Tower Hamlets council workers' strike continues

Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

No going back

Housing crisis: what now and after the pandemic?

Workplace news

United Left general secretary hustings shows widest debate needed for left in Unite

Nationalise Tata Steel to save jobs

Online rally: Fight the London transport funding cuts!

Continue the fight to protect safety

Debenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Time to relaunch TUSC


I joined the Socialist Party to fight back

Wales arts cuts: Save every job

Trade unionists and artists stand with Maxine Peake

Bristol trans rights protest

Getting the Socialist over the summer


Saving the music industry from pandemic and austerity

International news

Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

Israel: Nurses strike and win

Communist Party

100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

Readers' opinion

Exciting Cuban spy thriller exposes US-sponsored terrorism

The Socialist inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 22 July 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Kazakhstan - Unprecedented, simultaneous mass protests

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: China - 1928 to the 1949 revolution

triangleChina: Bureaucracy grapples with new crises

triangleInternational solidarity protests


triangleNews in brief

triangleWhy are things the way they are?

triangleBullying weighing room culture at the races

triangleMoney Heist: A Robin Hood tale set in modern-day capitalism


triangleUS: Independent Socialist Group launches new paper

triangleDon't Look Up: An entertaining satire on corporate power and the US establishment

triangleNorth London NHS - "It's going to be us who saves it"

Hong Kong:

triangleHong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

triangleChinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Want to fight austerity?



Tories hand cash to private health profiteers



Tory vaccine sacking threat set to deepen NHS staffing crisis



Tories on the ropes - Build a workers' alternative



No trust in Tories to keep us safe



Employers use vaccine excuse to attack sick pay



News in brief


Welfare state

Mutual aid, the welfare state and the fight for a new mass workers' party


Socialist Party

Pamphlet: What the Socialist Party stands for



Super-rich get richer, while we can't make ends meet. Join the fightback!



Low pay, stress and Covid drive: NHS staff crisis



Covid, stress and cutbacks fuel school staff shortages


Black Lives Matter

Blow to establishment as jury backs Colston Four



Energy price crisis: nationalise energy giants to save us from £600 hit



Energy bosses: 'Jump, cuddle and eat porridge while we raise prices'

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

January 2022