US could withdraw intelligence assets from the UK due to Huawei’s role in 5G

HuaweiThe United States could end all sensitive intelligence operations and withdraw its intelligence assets from the United Kingdom if a leading Chinese company is hired to upgrade the country’s telecommunications network. The British government has come under relentless pressure by Washington to not hire Huawei Technologies, one of the world’s leading telecommunications hardware manufacturers, to build the United Kingdom’s 5th generation cellular communications infrastructure.

Many Western intelligence agencies view Huawei as being uncomfortably close to the Communist Party of China. Washington has been leading a worldwide campaign to limit Huawei’s ability to build the infrastructure for 5G, the world’s next-generation wireless network. Along with some if its allies, notably Australia and Canada, the US is concerned that the Chinese telecommunications giant may facilitate global wiretapping on behalf of Beijing’s spy agencies. Last year, Washington warned two of its main European allies, Britain and Germany, that it would stop sharing intelligence with them if they allowed Huawei to compete for 5G contracts.

Now the White House appears to be considering a more drastic step. According to the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the Trump administration has ordered a review of whether it should curtail its intelligence assets and operations on British soil if the Chinese firm were hired to build the UK’s 5G network. Citing “half a dozen” current and former British and American officials, the paper said that the review is still in the works. It is being conducted under the auspices of the National Security Council, America’s highest decision-making body, which is chaired by the president himself.

The Daily Telegraph reports that, among the topics being looked at in the review is whether US intelligence operations and hardware —both civilian and military— would be compromised by Huawei’s involvement in the telecommunications infrastructure. The hardware includes military installations and surveillance platforms, such as a number of RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, which operate out of the Royal Air Force Mildenhall in Sussex, near England’s southern coast. The paper notes that the report and its recommendations could result in drastic chances for the so-called “special relationship” between the US and the UK.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 06 May 2020 | Permalink

One Response to US could withdraw intelligence assets from the UK due to Huawei’s role in 5G

  1. Pete says:

    The US breaking “sensitive” intelligence relations with the UK (on account of UK relying on Huawei 5G) is a disproportionate threat which would not happen Substantially in practice. A broader cost would be acute damage to the Anglo Five Eyes intelligence alliance (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

    The US relies on the UK too much in such intel areas as: counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in the Middle East/Afghnistan and international Signals Intelligence (especially against Russia and China).

    A reduction in some OFFICIAL US-UK intel sharing is only one aspect. There would be far less reduction in reliance and volume of US-UK UNOFFICIAL back-channel sharing – that remains far from the public gaze.

    In the end the US needs to keep up the almost the same level of sharing with the UK if the US wants the UK to keep the US apprised of a major US intel requirement

    – that is “to what extent has UK adoption of Huawei 5G compromized UK telecommunications and internet?”

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