The United States had recently flown in officials to advise the United Kingdom to not allow China’s Huawei Technologies into its 5G infrastructure. The officials warned British ministers that allowing the Chinese firm access would be “nothing short of madness” and would put transatlantic intelligence sharing between the US and UK at risk.
Speaking to the Financial Times, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien expressed doubts in UK’s decision making in this matter, and remarked that country merely viewed Huawei’s inclusion to their 5G networks as a commercial decision rather than a national security decision.
“They are just going to steal wholesale state secrets, whether they are the UK’s nuclear secrets or secrets from MI6 or MI5,” he added.
According to CNN, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also warned allies during his tour of Europe last year – stating that countries sustaining links with Huawei could damage their relationship with the US.
On the other hand, a Huawei spokesperson told the BBC: “We are a private company which has supplied 3G, 4G and broadband equipment to the UK’s telecoms companies for 15 years. British experts are clear our technology does not pose a security risk.”
The Guardian reports that the head of MI5 Andrew Parker saw no threat from the Chinese firm, and said that he had “no reason today to think that” the longstanding intelligence partnership between the US and UK would be affected.
The UK’s security establishment had also repeatedly advised British prime minister Boris Johnson that any security risks can be contained. Johnson is expected to make a final decision about Huawei’s involvement in the country’s 5G infrastructure shortly.
The final decision’s outcome would also determine Britain’s future in terms of its international relationship with the US and its allies, especially after the country formally leaves the European Union at the end of January.