The United States has responded to revelations that British Civil Servants have green-lit the involvement of Huawei in the nation’s future 5G data networks with concern, given the widespread and repeated warnings over the company voiced by several top UK allies.
The United Kingdom is expected to make the final decision on 5G technology companies next week at a meeting of the UK National Security Council, but the reported decision of unelected UK civil servants that they approve the involvement of controversial Chinese tech giant Huawei gives a clear indication on the direction of travel. This is likely to cause major friction with top British allies at a time when the United Kingdom needs friends in the wider world, as it departs the European Union.
British newspaper The Times reports comments of a “senior US official” who said of the news: “The appetite for a US-UK trade agreement could be diminished by the UK making the wrong decision on Huawei”, which the paper implied in its reporting is the view of President Trump himself.
It is not clear why the British government is setting course for such an obvious roadblock to a future UK-U.S. trade deal over the Huawei issue, given several British allies including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have warned over the company, and how its involvement in technology infrastructure in any member nation would imperil the Five Eyes group. Five Eyes, founded in the Second World War is an intelligence-sharing alliance comprising the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and makes it the closest military alliance on the globe.
Defying Spying Concerns, Huawei Gets Role in UK 5G Network Rollout https://t.co/W6QwYDyu3N
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 24, 2020
Despite the warnings that taking on Huawei would cause problems for its allies, Britain’s MI5 internal intelligence agency has insisted there is no reason for concern. President Trump has previously said the UK should be “very careful from the standpoint of national security”.
Part of the problem for the United Kingdom, as expressed by government minister Andrea Leadsom, is simply that Huawei technology is cheaper and more advanced than any other on the market presently. The difficulty claimed by many is that Huawei is thought to be controlled by the Chinese government and allowing their equipment to route data traffic would offer unparalleled opportunities for espionage and even sabotage.
Even so, Australia has warned the cheap tech offered by China isn’t worth the risk. The Times report cites Kimberley Kitching, an Australian Labor chairwoman of the senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee, who said: “It is the ultimate false economy to allow the commercial benefits to outweigh the security considerations where a vendor cannot offer 100 per cent integrity.”
As Breitbart London reported Thursday, the U.S. reacted with apparent alarm at the news their British allies might consider allowing Chinese 5G into critical national infrastructure. Trade Secretary Steven Mnuchin has indicated he will be raising his country’s concerns with his British counterparts at meetings today and on Sunday.