One of the UK's top spies signalled he isn't worried by US threats to withhold intelligence over Huawei, suggesting Trump's lobbying efforts are failing
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- The head of the UK's counterintelligence service MI5 told The Financial Times he doesn't believe the UK's intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be jeopardized if it allowed Huawei to build 5G equipment.
- The US has repeatedly lobbied its allies to freeze out Huawei, insisting it would have to limit its intelligence-sharing with any country that uses Huawei 5G kit.
- The US claims that Huawei is a conduit for Chinese government spying, a charge the firm has continually denied.
- This past week the US has upped the pressure on Britain to exclude Huawei.
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One of the UK's most senior spies dealt a blow to US lobbying efforts to cut Huawei out of next-generation global mobile networks.The head of MI5 has dismissed threats from the US to cut allied countries off from intelligence sharing if they allow Huawei to build their 5G networks.Advertisement
MI5 Director General Andrew Parker told The Financial Times he has "no reason to think" the UK's intelligence-sharing with the US would be jeopardised if it refused to exclude Huawei, although he did not elaborate.
He added that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in an awkward position because there are few suppliers in the telecom infrastructure market. Huawei dominates with around 28% of market share according to research from Dell'Oro Group. Second-placed Nokia holds 16% of the market.Parker's comments come as US officials arrive in the UK on Monday to try and lobby the government on Huawei. Reuters reported that the delegation will include deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger.
Parker's comments may anger the Trump administration, which has been lobbying allied countries to freeze out Huawei over the past year with limited success. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned allies last year that the US would find it "difficult" to partner with countries who allow Huawei to construct their 5G networks, as the US claims the company acts as a conduit for Chinese state espionage.Over the last week the US has upped the pressure on Britain, with Pompeo convening a meeting with UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab in Washington last week. Reuters reported the meeting was part of a last-ditch attempt to get Britain onside.The UK has stayed relatively quiet on exactly where it stands on Huawei. In April last year reports emerged that then-Prime Minister Theresa May was considering allowing the company to build "non-core" 5G infrastructure. The government was supposed to make a ruling on whether to exclude the Chinese tech giant in July 2019 following the Trump administration's decision to place Huawei on a trade blacklist, but delayed its decision citing a lack of clarity from the US.Advertisement