US officials are gearing up for a final attempt to persuade the government to block Huawei from building the UK’s 5G network.
Representatives from the US National Economic Council and National Security Agency are set to hold meetings in London tomorrow ahead of a final verdict on whether the embattled Chinese tech firm will face a ban.
The delegation of officials is also expected to include deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, sources told Reuters.
US President Donald Trump has added Huawei to a trade blacklist over fears the firm’s equipment could be used for spying by authorities in Beijing.
The UK was originally due to announce its verdict on the issue last spring, but has repeatedly kicked back the decision. Security minister Brandon Lewis told the BBC today that a decision would be taken “relatively soon”.
A leak from a national security meeting in April last year suggested the government will allow Huawei to participate in so-called non-core parts of the next-generation mobile network, but would be banned from building the core.
All four of the UK’s major telecoms providers have since launched their 5G networks using some equipment made by Huawei.
But the firms have called for greater clarity over the government’s position and warned a total ban would slow down the rollout of the new network.
The row over Huawei has proved a key battleground in the protracted trade war between the US and China. However, it has also threatened to derail the so-called special relationship between London and Washington.
US officials have repeatedly warned the UK and other allies that any cooperation with the Shenzhen-based company could put intelligence-sharing agreements at risk.
Huawei has always denied allegations of wrongdoing, and has accused the US of launching a politically-motivated campaign against it.
A government spokesperson said: “The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance. The government continues to consider its position on high risk vendors and a decision will be made in due course.”