US, UK officials meet as PM Johnson's Huawei decision nears

Cheryl Sanders
January 14, 2020

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has introduced a bill that seeks to prohibit US intelligence agencies from sharing information with countries that use Huawei's 5G networking equipment, citing national security risks.

US President Donald Trump has sought to pressure Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue.

Even the fact that the United Kingdom cabinet had voted last spring to allow Huawei to supply non-core technology such as mobile phone masts and antennas in future 5G networks, this would not suffice to allay Washington's concerns, the U.S. officials are said to have indicated.

The U.S. has been intensely lobbying against the move, and it seems the delegation that arrived in the U.K this week was something of a last big push to steer Britain away from Huawei's 5G aspirations to build the network.

USA sources refused to comment on the content of the file.

"And now, Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, says he has "no reason to think" that the UK's intelligence-sharing relationship with the USA would be hit if Britain continued to use Huawei technology".

The U.S. government began urging its allies to drop Huawei from it critical telecommunications infrastructure previous year, arguing that Huawei can't be trusted not to enable the Chinese government's espionage operations.

However, UK officials have suggested they are not anxious that such a review would lead to any substantive change in behaviour.

Officials from both countries and the telecoms industry met on Monday ahead of Britain's decision, expected later this month, on whether to deploy technology from the Chinese company. "British experts are clear our technology does not pose a security risk".

He called on Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee to open an immediate investigation into the company's suitability to build parts of the UK's 5G infrastructure.

In December, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he didn't want to close its doors to overseas investment, but admitted that there were security concerns.

"The government continues to consider its position on high risk vendors and a decision will be made in due course".

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