The Trump Administration’s National Security Council launched a review this week of what military and intelligence assets will be withdrawn from Great Britain if the U.K. goes ahead with its 5G deal with Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
U.S. officials told Bloomberg’s Eli Lake that the assessment is being conducted in response to Huawei “putting smart antennas and computers run by the Chinese Communist Party all over our closest ally.”
In January, Boris Johnson’s government announced that the U.K. would allow Huawei — which is charged in the U.S. with racketeering, fraud, and intellectual property theft — to help build the country’s 5G network, despite intense diplomatic pressure from the Trump administration to resist the Chinese.
President Trump reportedly “tore into” Johnson in a phone call over the deal, as the U.S. has warned allies in the past that there would be consequences for dealing with Huawei, but has struggled to come up with 5G alternatives to the Chinese giant.
“If a country adopts this [Huawei technology] and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last February. “In some cases there’s risk — we won’t even be able to co-locate American resources, an American embassy, an American military outpost.”
Britain has insisted that Huawei will not have access to sensitive intelligence and the core network “control plane,” but U.S. officials are still worried that proximity risks posed to U.S. assets in the U.K, and are looking at potentially halting deals over military and intelligence equipment over the move.
In the wake of Johnson’s announcement, a group of parliamentarians from his own party have voiced their opposition to the Huawei deal and may scuttle it entirely, according to Financial Times.