Washington has repeatedly claimed that London’s move to give Huawei a limited role in building Britain’s 5G network could potentially compromise the country’s security and hamper intelligence-sharing between the US and the UK.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged that Washington can assist in building nuclear power stations and 5G infrastructure in the UK amid reports about a spat between China and British bank HSBC.
On Wednesday, Pompeo said in a statement that the US stood with its “allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) coercive bullying tactics”, in an apparent nod to reports that Beijing had threatened to crack down on HSBC and “break commitments to build nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom unless London allows Huawei to build its 5G network”.
According to the reports, HSBC chairman Mark Tucker met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advisers to warn the government against a ban on Huawei’s participation in creating Britain’s 5G sector.
Pompeo blamed Beijing for using the “bank’s business in China as political leverage against London”, urging countries to “avoid economic overreliance on China” and “guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence”.
“The United States stands ready to assist our friends in the UK with any needs they have, from building secure and reliable nuclear power plants to developing trusted 5G solutions that protect their citizens’ privacy”, Pompeo pointed out.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the UK’s Defence Select Committee, reacted to the remarks by saying that “Pompeo’s offer to stand with allies should be taken before the shifting global balance of power in China’s favour takes us closer to a bi-polar world and another Cold War”.
Huawei Vice President Calls for ‘Fact-Based Approach’ by UK on Chinese Tech Giant
This followed Huawei’s announcement earlier this week that the Chinese tech giant is “as committed as ever” to delivering “the best equipment” to Britain’s 5G mobile and full-fibre broadband providers.
The company’s vice president and head of its UK operations Victor Zhang, for his part, expressed hope that Britain would take an “evidence and fact-based approach” on Huawei, warning of the far-reaching economic repercussions of the firm’s possible exclusion from participating in building the UK’s 5G network.
“We believe the UK will definitely review this based on the facts and the evidence, because the UK will take its own interests very seriously”, the Huawei vice president said.
He spoke after Downing Street confirmed in May that the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre had launched a review of Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network.
The announcement followed London saying in February it plans to give Huawei a limited role in building the UK’s 5G network, despite previous warnings from Washington that the move could hamper Britain’s security as well as intelligence-sharing between the US and the UK.
At the time, London stressed that Huawei would be excluded from the 5G network’s “core” parts, such as security-related areas.
US Crackown on Huawei
US authorities tightened the screws on Huawei in May 2019, when the Department of Commerce put the Chinese tech giant on its blacklist, barring the company from trading with American companies and suppliers.
Washington claimed that the Chinese tech behemoth poses a threat to US national security, allegations that both Huawei and Beijing vehemently deny.