|29 January, 2020

United States tells Britain: look again at Huawei 5G decision

Prime Minister Boris Johnson granted Huawei a limited role in Britain's 5G mobile network

A Huawei 5G device is pictured outside an exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, January 30, 2019. Image used for illustrative purpose

A Huawei 5G device is pictured outside an exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, January 30, 2019. Image used for illustrative purpose

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

LONDON- The United States on Wednesday urged Britain to look again at its decision to allow China's Huawei a limited role in 5G networks, cautioning that American information should only pass across trusted networks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson granted Huawei a limited role in Britain's 5G mobile network on Tuesday, frustrating a global attempt by the United States to exclude the Chinese telecoms giant from the West's next-generation communications.

"There is also a chance for the United Kingdom to relook at this as implementation moves forward," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters as he flew to London, according to a pooled report.

"We will make sure that when American information passes across a network we are confident that that network is a trusted one," he said.

Pompeo is due to arrive in London later on Wednesday. He is scheduled to meet his British counterpart Dominic Raab as well as Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He said telecoms and security would be "part of the conversation".

In what some have compared to the Cold War antagonism with the Soviet Union, the United States is worried that 5G dominance is a milestone towards Chinese technological supremacy that could define the geopolitics of the 21st century.

"Our view of Huawei is: putting it in your system creates real risk," Pompeo said. "This is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party with a legal requirement to hand over information to the Chinese Community Party. We’ll evaluate what the United Kingdom did."

Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, has said the United States wants to frustrate its growth because no U.S. company could offer the same range of technology at a competitive price.

Britain argued that excluding Huawei would have delayed 5G and cost consumers more, echoing warnings from the telecoms industry.

"It’s important for everyone to know there is also real work being done by lots of private companies inside the United States and in Europe to make sure that there are true competitors to Huawei," Pompeo said.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Estelle Shirbon) ((guy.faulconbridge@thomsonreuters.com; 07825218698;))

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