The United States is making a final pitch to Britain ahead of a UK decision on whether to upgrade its telecoms network with Huawei equipment, amid threats to cut intelligence-sharing ties, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
London is expected to make a final call on how to deploy Huawei equipment in its future 5G networks later this month, weighing U.S.-led allegations that the equipment could be used for Chinese state spying against Britain’s relationship with Beijing and industry warnings that banning the firm outright would cost billions of dollars, Reuters added.
Huawei, the world’s largest maker of mobile networking equipment, has repeatedly denied the allegations. A company spokesman said UK lawmakers had confirmed Huawei equipment would not be deployed in networks used for intelligence sharing.
“Our 5G equipment does not pose a threat to information security,” he said. “We are confident the UK government will take an evidence-based approach when making its decision about Huawei’s inclusion in the 5G network.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to press British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over Huawei at a meeting in Washington on Thursday, the sources said, Reuters notes.
Ahead of the decision, Washington had also planned to send a delegation, including deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, to meet with British officials this week, sources said. But the trip was canceled at the last minute, two of the people said, due to bad weather.
Last month, the United States also passed legislation that included a provision bolstering threats to restrict intelligence-sharing with allies that use Huawei equipment.
Washington is seen to be “cocking the pistol,” said a person with knowledge of the British government’s position on Huawei. “What’s unclear is how, when or indeed if it will actually be fired.”