Huawei Fallout: US Secretary of State Flies to UK Over 5G Decision

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a news conference to talk about the dire economic and political situation in Venezuela at the Harry S. Truman State Department headquarters March 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pompeo blamed the governments of Cuba and Russia for the political, economic and infrastructure turmoil …
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The Secretary of State of the United States will fly to the United Kingdom to discuss Boris Johnson’s controversial decision to allow Huawei to help build the nation’s 5G infrastructure. The move by the UK is seen as a possible stumbling block in future trade negotiations with the U.S. as well as jeopardising intelligence sharing between the two powers.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with his UK counterpart Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to outline the American position on the UK’s decision to grant 5G access to the Chinese tech giant, which critics say will give the Chinese Communist Party a ‘back door’ into Britain’s security apparatus.

The State Department said that Mr Pompeo’s trip will “reaffirm the special relationship following the UK’s departure from the EU and discuss ways to broaden and deepen trade ties”, according to the BBC.

Ahead of the UK’s Huawei decision, Mr Pompeo suggested that the move would jeopardise the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and that the U.S. “won’t be able to share information” with any nation that allows Chinese access into its networks.

The UK Culture Secretary, Baroness Morgan of Cotes, dismissed fears that allowing a Chinese-owned firm to work on the nation’s 5G infrastructure would endanger the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing agreement that has been in place since the Second World War.

“Our relationship with the U.S. and our other Five Eyes partners is incredibly important,” she said.

“There is nothing in the decision taken yesterday that would affect our ability to share the most classified data with the U.S. or our other allies,” added Baroness Morgan.

The move by the United Kingdom was widely condemned in the United States, leading many to call into question the future security relationship between the two countries.

In an op-ed for The Telegraph, U.S. security expert Klon Kitchen posed the question: “Why bother with the struggle of leaving the European Union only to run into the arms of the communist Chinese?”

Mr Kitchen argued that Huawei is “an extension of the Chinese government” and that the decision will open up a “catastrophic vulnerability to one of the world’s premier cyber aggressors and this is why the United States is pressing hard for you to reconsider”.

He warned that other European nations “will follow Britain in opting for Chinese technology and Beijing will have secured a strategic foothold that endangers the long-term security of the entire European Continent”.

Mr Kitchen’s warnings were echoed by prominent members of Congress in the United States, including Republican Senator Tom Cotton who called for a “thorough review” into the future intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom.

“I fear London has freed itself from Brussels only to cede sovereignty to Beijing,” said Senator Cotton.

Senator Lindsey Graham wrote: “This decision has the potential to jeopardise U.S.-UK intelligence-sharing agreements and could greatly complicate a U.S.-UK free trade agreement.”

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace attempted to downplay the significance of allowing access to a Chinese owned company, saying that Britons should not be “paranoid”, saying that the Huawei decision will not lead to “Big Brother from China watching us”.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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