The US has warned Britain that including Huawei’s equipment in future 5G mobile networks would be “nothing short of madness”.

 

Senior officials in Washington have repeatedly stated that the US would reassess intelligence sharing with the UK if the Chinese telecoms firm was given any role in Britain’s 5G infrastructure.

A delegation from the US capital – including Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger – presented British ministers with new technical evidence on Monday about the risks, according to the Financial Times.

There are growing expectations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will decide in favour of allowing the use of Huawei equipment in some non-core parts of the network, with a final decision due later in January, the newspaper reported.

Allowing Huawei into Britain’s 5G networks would be like putting Russia in charge of anti-doping of world athletes, one US representative was quoted as saying.

The showdown comes just days after the head of MI5 said he had no reason to think the UK’s relationship with America would suffer if Huawei was allowed involvement in the 5G communications network.

Perhaps the thing that needs more focus and more discussion is how do we get to a future where there’s a wider range of competition and a wider range of sovereign choices than defaulting to a yes or no about Chinese technology, Sir Andrew Parker said in an interview with the FT.

But a US official who was present at the latest meeting between US and British security officials told the FT: It’s the strong view and assessment by the US by a broad range of officials both political and professionals that any amount of equipment from untrusted Chinese vendors is too much.

Any amount caries the risk of compromising infrastructure, private citizens’ data and corporate secrets and sensitive information.

It raises the questions, why do any amount of business with people you don’t trust?

The government under former prime minister Theresa May granted the Chinese telecoms giant restricted access to build non-core infrastructure such as antennas, but said it would be blocked from involvement in the most sensitive areas of the network.

Speaking at the NATO summit in London last month, Mr Johnson acknowledged that the key criterion regarding the company was whether use of its technology would impact the UK’s intelligence sharing partnerships.

I don’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas but, on the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests, he said.

Huawei’s most senior executive in the UK told Sky News in December he was optimistic the UK would not exclude the company from the rollout of 5G services in the country.

Victor Zhang, Huawei’s president for global government affairs, said: I am very confident that the UK will choose Huawei because the UK always takes an evidence and facts-based approach and that the decision-making will be based on the nation’s long-term interest and to satisfy society and the benefit of all consumers.

Huawei have been here in the UK for more than 18 years and trust has been built with our customers and with the UK government through our openness and transparency.

A final decision on what role, if any, the Chinese company’s equipment could play in the UK’s 5G infrastructure has been delayed a number of times by the British government amid political turmoil connected to Brexit, but is expected soon.

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(c) Sky News 2020: Using Huawei’s 5G tech is ‘nothing short of madness’, UK warned