- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took aim at China and the UK in the Trump administration’s ongoing war on Chinese tech firm Huawei.
- On a trip to the UK, Pompeo questioned Britain’s expected decision to involve Huawei in the building of its 5G network. He said it would deal a blow to how the US and UK trade intelligence.
- Pompeo added that China wants to “divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs.”
- Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s foreign secretary, said the UK would “never take a decision that compromised our intelligence sharing.”
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taken aim at both China and the UK as he ratcheted up the Trump administration’s ongoing war on Huawei, the Chinese tech giant.
Pompeo was in the UK on Wednesday, during which he took the opportunity to scold the expected decision of Theresa May’s government to involve Huawei in the building of Britain’s 5G mobile network – a decision that was dramatically leaked from a National Security Council meeting last month but has not been confirmed officially by the government.
The trip was partly designed to underline the US and UK’s special relationship, which is of increasing importance to Britain as it prepares to leave the EU. But Pompeo cast doubt on the close ties by openly questioning the wisdom of the UK’s plan to work with a company that the US suspects is an agent for Chinese surveillance. Huawei strenuously denies this.
“Why would anyone grant such power to a regime that has already grossly violated cyberspace?” Pompeo said, referring to Huawei, during a speech at London’s Lancaster House. “What can Her Majesty’s government do to make sure sensitive technologies don’t become open doors for Beijing’s spymasters?”
He went on to suggest that inviting Huawei into Britain’s 5G network would deal a blow to how the US and UK trade intelligence. It’s a point the US has repeatedly made to allies as part of efforts to lobby them against getting into bed with the Chinese firm, now the second largest smartphone maker in the world.
“Insufficient security will impede the United States’ ability to share certain information within trusted networks. This is just what China wants – to divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs,” Pompeo explained.
He also evoked the memory of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the event, asking: “Would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption or coercion?”
Pompeo was speaking after talks with May and Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s foreign secretary. In a press conference following the meeting, Hunt said the government had not made a final decision on Huawei, adding: “We would never take a decision that compromised our intelligence sharing.”
On the same day that Pompeo made his remarks, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was in court in Canada for a pre-hearing on her extradition to the US. According to reports, her lawyers argued that the case against her is flawed and politically motivated.
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