The United States makes a final argument to Britain before the United Kingdom’s decision to upgrade its telecommunications network with Huawei equipment, amid threats to break sharing links people who know the matter,
Britain is expected to make a final call on how to deploy Huawei equipment into its future 5G networks later this month, weighing in against U.S.-led claims that the equipment could be used to spy on the media. Chinese state against Britain’s relations with Beijing and industry warnings banning the business downright could cost billions of dollars.
Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile networking equipment, has repeatedly denied these allegations. A company spokesperson said British lawmakers had confirmed that Huawei equipment would not be deployed in networks used for information sharing. “Our 5G equipment does not pose a threat to information security,” he said. “We are confident that the UK government will take an evidence-based approach when it makes its decision on whether to include Huawei in the 5G network.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to pressure British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab over Huawei at a meeting in Washington on Thursday, the sources said, prior to the move, Washington also planned to send a delegation, including assistant national security adviser Matt Pottinger, to meet with British officials this week, sources said, but the trip was cancelled at the last minute, according to two people, due to bad weather.
Last month, the United States also passed legislation that included a threatening provision to restrict the sharing of information with allies who use Huawei equipment. Washington is seen as “arming the gun,” said a person familiar with the British government’s position on Huawei. “What is not clear is how, when or even whether it will actually be fired.”
A spokesperson for the British government said: “The security and resilience of British telecommunications networks are of paramount importance. The government continues to reflect on its position on high-risk suppliers and a decision will be made in due course. The United States Department of State and the National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Britain is a key battleground in the geopolitical standoff against Huawei.
Authorities decided in principle last year to block the business from critical parts of the 5G network, but give it limited access to less sensitive parts. A final decision has not yet been made public. A provision in US defence spending law 2020, signed by President Donald Trump in December, directs intelligence agencies to consider the use of telecommunications and cybersecurity infrastructure “supplied by adversaries of the United States, especially China and Russia, “when they enter into intelligence-sharing agreements with foreign countries.
The provision, added by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, specifically targeted members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which is made up of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New -Zealand, and was intended to be “the first bow”, said a person familiar with the matter. Cotton’s aide said the senator’s team is working on a new bill which could be released this month and which would “severely restrict” the sharing of information with countries using Huawei equipment in their 5G networks, following previous American threats to do so.
“I am deeply concerned about the possibility that close allies, including the United Kingdom, can allow the Chinese Communist Party to effectively build their highly sensitive 5G infrastructure,” Cotton told Reuters.