The Sunday Times reported that US President Donald Trump have warned the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that giving the green light to Huawei would pose a serious risk to national security, sparking fears of a rift in the so-called special relationship between the US and the UK.
The British newspaper revealed that Trump had informed Johnson of this, during a phone conversation on January 24.
Boris Johnson indicated earlier this month that will allow Huawei a “limited ” role in building the UK‘s 5G network in order to meet his manifesto commitment to build faster broadband across the country.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported, citing its own sources that British officials have proposed granting Huawei a limited role in the UK’s future 5G network, resisting U.S. calls for a complete ban over fears of Chinese spying.
The recommendation, made at a meeting of officials from senior government departments on Wednesday, comes ahead of a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council next week to decide how to deploy Huawei equipment, the sources said.
The officials proposed barring Huawei from the sensitive, data-heavy “core” part of the network and restricted government systems, closely mirroring a provisional decision made last year under former Prime Minister Theresa May.
“The technical and policy guidance hasn’t changed,” said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “Now it is down to a political calculation.”
Britain is caught in the centre of a geopolitical tug-of-war over Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of mobile networking equipment.
In the first big test of Brexit Britain’s foreign policy, Johnson’s government must balance its “special relationship” with the United States against valuable trade ties with China and industry warnings that banning Huawei would cost billions of dollars and delay the UK rollout of super-fast 5G connections.
The proposed solution represents a “calculated compromise”, which can be presented to Washington as a tough restriction on the Chinese firm but also accepted by British operators already using the company’s equipment, one of the sources said.
Any decision by Britain to allow Huawei even a restricted role in its 5G networks will likely anger U.S. officials, who say Huawei equipment could be used by China for spying or sabotage and have threatened to limit intelligence sharing with allies who refuse to bar it from their networks.
UK intelligence officials have called out Huawei for failing to address security flaws in its equipment, but say they have found no evidence of state espionage and believe they are able to successfully manage any risks posed by the firm.
According to the Sunday Times, the British government will officially announce its decision on January 28.