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US Pressures UK on Final Huawei Decision

The US made a last ditch bid to convince the British government to fall into line over Huawei this week, as newly introduced legislation proposed excluding allies from intelligence sharing agreements.

Secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was expected to press his counterpart Dominic Raab at a meeting in Washington this week over the UK’s position on its 5G networks.

A final decision is expected to be taken by Boris Johnson’s new government later this month, but a government leak last April suggested the UK is happy to keep Huawei equipment in “non-core” parts of its networks.

That puts it at odds with a Trump administration that is trying to pressure allies into its harder line opposition to the Shenzhen-based company, which it claims is a national security risk due to its ties to the Communist Party of China.

“The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance,” a Foreign Office spokesperson told Reuters. “The government continues to consider its position on high-risk vendors and a decision will be made in due course.”

Also this week, Republican senator Tom Cotton introduced a new bill that would prevent Washington from sharing intelligence with any countries which allow 5G technology from Huawei to operate “within their borders.”

The legislation is seen as an attempt to put more pressure on the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance which includes the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK.

Donald Trump last year declared a National Emergency to prevent “foreign adversaries” from providing equipment for its critical 5G network infrastructure. An entity list prevented US firms from selling key components to Huawei and scores of other Chinese companies.

However, its efforts to convince allies around the world to do the same has been met with mixed results, especially as blacklisting Huawei would set their development of 5G back considerably, while Trump's “America First” rhetoric makes the US a less convincing ally.

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