The US Ambassador to the United Kingdom has issued a stark public warning against the UK utilising 5G equipment from Huawei Technologies.
The UK government is currently trying to reach a final decision on the use of Huawei equipment in its 5G networks, as the mobile industry expresses its strong support for the Chinese equipment manufacturer.
Earlier this month China’s ambassador to the UK warned that excluding Huawei from Britain’s 5G network “sends a very bad signal” to Chinese firms looking to invest in the UK.
In mid April the UK’s secretive National Security Council (NSC) had agreed to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the network such as antennas and other “non-core” infrastructure.
That draw a sharp reaction from the United States, which has consistently warned its allies against using Huawei kit.
The final British decision was expected to have happened by now, but Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to step down as PM has stalled the decision, which is now only expected to be made when she leaves office in late July.
British digital minister Jeremy Wright recently admitted that the UK cannot disregard American restrictions on Huawei when it decides what equipment makers can participate in the roll-out of 5G networks.
And this was reinforced by the US Ambassador, speaking at a London conference for the Centre of Policy Studies centre-right think tank.
“If you let untrustworthy countries in the heart of our economics and infrastructure, what could they do when inside them? I’ve always said it’s like letting a kleptomaniac move into your house,” Woody Johnson was quoted by Sky news as saying.
“And then you’ve got to hire three people to follow them around all day and see how that works – it’s not a very good situation, maybe that’s unfair in some ways but I think it’s one way to look at it,” the Ambassador reportedly said.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that United States will withdraw from environments where Huawei technology is used, and stop sharing intelligence data.
Indeed, when Pompeo visited London recently, he warned the UK that Margaret Thatcher would have taken a much firmer line to using Huawei kit.
“Now is not the time for either of us to go wobbly,” Pompeo was quoted as saying in a speech about the so-called special relationship.
“In China, we face a new kind of challenge; an authoritarian regime that’s integrated economically into the West in ways that the Soviet Union never was,” Pompeo reportedly said.
“Ask yourself: would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption or coercion? Would she allow China to control the internet of the future?” Pompeo said.
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