US secretary of state Mike Pompeo today urged the UK to rethink its decision to allow Huawei to help build 5G networks, describing the move as a “real risk”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday granted the Chinese firm a limited role in British telecoms infrastructure — defying stark warnings from the US.
“There is a chance for the United Kingdom to relook at this as implementation moves forward,” Pompeo told reporters as he flew to London. “Our view of Huawei is: putting it in your system creates real risk.”
The US has led calls for a ban on Huawei amid concerns its equipment could be used for spying by authorities in Beijing, and has warned that working with the Chinese firm could compromise intelligence-sharing agreements.
But Pompeo today said the US would ensure that any network used for passing information across the Atlantic would be a trusted one.
In addition to a meeting with Johnson, the US secretary of state is set to meet his British counterpart Dominic Raab. He said telecoms and security would be “part of the conversation”.
The government’s decision to give Huawei the green light has risked sparking a diplomatic row with Washington ahead of key trade talks.
However, Pompeo said his country wanted to work with the UK, and Johnson insisted the decision would not harm cooperation with the US.
It came as Huawei denied a newspaper report stating the German government had evidence showing that the controversial Chinese tech firm had cooperated with intelligence services in Beijing.
“Huawei Technologies has never, and will never, do anything to compromise the security of networks and data of its customers,” the firm said in a statement.
Huawei said the claims, published in the Handelsblatt, were “old, unfounded allegations” with no concrete evidence.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed back a decision on Huawei amid a stark difference of opinion within her coalition government.
However, some analysts have suggested that the UK’s decision to allow Huawei’s involvement with restrictions will pave the way for other countries to take the same approach.