By Ai Jun Source: Global Times
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Photo: AFP
Right after the UK announced a ban on China’s tech giant Huawei from its 5G network on Tuesday local time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rushed to publish a statement expressing how the US “welcomes” the decision, and tweeted that the UK’s move was protecting “free-world values.” This is a big joke. Of all people, US officials, especially Pompeo, are now the least qualified ones to hail free-world values.
Kicking out Huawei is exactly whose order? The answer was also given on Tuesday by US President Donald Trump. Addressing reporters in Washington, Trump said that “we convinced many countries… I did this myself for the most part not to use Huawei, because we think it is an unsafe security risk,” adding “if they want to do business with us, they can’t use it.”
What an absolute threat. As it turned out, the move to remove Huawei from the UK’s 5G networks had nothing to do with “free-world values.”
What had been concerning the UK was not the so-called security risks, but constant pressure from the US. In January, US Senator Tom Cotton introduced a bill which suggests the US stop sharing intelligence with countries that allow Huawei to operate their 5G networks. In February, then US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump just called me from AF1 and instructed me to make clear that any nation who chooses to use an untrustworthy 5G vendor will jeopardize our ability to share intelligence and information at the highest level.”
Was Washington protecting free-world values when coercing its allies? Launching the battle over Huawei is about safeguarding US interests – maintaining its absolute leading position in the high-tech competition with China. Unfortunately, in this game between China and the US, the UK was turned into a pawn by Uncle Sam on issues involving the British 5G network, which is supposed to be the UK’s domestic affairs.
Who will pay the price of purging Huawei from the UK’s telecom network? Are there any other substitutes? No assurance has been provided by the US. One US official warned that the UK first needed to take a harsher stance toward Huawei before Washington could envisage a joint initiative with the so-called group of “D10” democratic countries in terms of alternatives, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
Every time Washington raises the topic of Huawei, it is piling pressure on its allies with warnings and consequences. It should stop pretending to stand on the moral high ground to talk about protecting the free world.
What will the UK get from bending its knees to the US? Probably nothing more than verbal praise. UK-US negotiations on their free trade agreement are filled with many obstacles, and the current US administration does not seem to be willing to share its interests with others.
The “free world” mentioned by Pompeo is merely a small circle of countries under US coercion. In the end, London will realize that the alliance with Washington and the latter’s version of free-world values are the most costly things in the world.