Chinese state media has foreshadowed “public and painful” retaliation against the UK over its Huawei ban from the country’s 5G networks.
The state-run Global Times said in an editorial that China could not “remain passive” following Britain’s announcement that Huawei would be stripped out of the country’s phone networks by 2027.
The article said, “It is necessary for China to retaliate against the UK, otherwise would we not be seen as easy to bully. Such retaliation should be public and painful for the UK.”
UK and China relations have deteriorated over the last month as the UK has criticised Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, a former British colony, and pledged to support fleeing pro-democracy activists and protesters. China has said it will take firm “countermeasures” in response.
Yet Chinese officials also appear to be making an effort not to escalate UK-China tensions by blaming measures like the Huawei ban on US pressure. Earlier this month China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said that any ban of Huawei would tarnish the UK’s reputation as independent from the US. On Tuesday Liu wrote on Twitter that the decision was “disappointing and wrong”.
The Global Times editorial said: “It is not necessary to turn this into a China-UK confrontation. The UK is not the US, nor Australia, nor Canada. It is a relative ‘weak link’ in the Five Eyes. In the long run the UK has no reason to turn against China, with the Hong Kong issue fading out.”
Hu Xijin, the Global Times’ editor, added on Twitter that political conditions could change before the deadline: “UK can only completely remove Huawei by 2027, which indicates it’s difficult to leave Huawei. But there could be change before and after that.”