U.S. makes 'final push' in United Kingdom 5G Huawei ban bid

Daniel Fowler
January 11, 2020

In 2018 Congress passed legislation that bans the Federal government from doing business with China-based Huawei and ZTE, over concerns that the companies are too tightly aligned with the Chinese government. And China has not yet been resolved, some companies like Micron have been granted licenses to sell their products to Huawei. Indeed the decision was already supposed to have been made, but was delayed by the departure of previous Prime Minister Theresa May past year.

The U.S. had also delegated responsibility to Matt Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser to take a team and set up a meeting with British officials and discuss the UK's future with Huawei. Unfortunately, the trip had to be postponed due to poor weather conditions.

The US made a last ditch bid to convince the British government to fall into line over Huawei this week, as newly introduced legislation proposed excluding allies from intelligence sharing agreements.

Under Theresa May, the UK's National Security Council (NSC) had in April 2019 agreed to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the 5G network such as antennas and other "non-core" infrastructure.

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Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who added the above provision to the defense spending bill, is reportedly working on a new draft bill that would "significantly restrict" intelligence-sharing with countries that use Huawei equipment in their 5G networks. "What's unclear is how, when or indeed if it will actually be fired".

A per the defense spending law of the U.S for 2020, President Trump directed the global intelligence agencies to make meticulous in making decisions when it comes to cybersecurity and telecoms infrastructure, specifically the one that is being provided by countries that the US considers its adversaries.

A government spokesperson said that it continues to consider its position on "high-risk vendors" and that a decision will be made "in due course".

Later this month, the United Kingdom is expected to decide whether or not to allow Huawei to build its national 5G infrastructure. Whatever Britain decides, the sharing of intelligence between these two long-time allies is at stake.

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