Trump Says He Had ‘Tough Talk’ With Johnson Over Huawei, Threatened to Stop ‘Doing Business’ With UK
In July, the UK had a change of heart regarding the Huawei issue, following months of talks with Washington, announcing the Chinese telecom company’s equipment would ultimately be a no go in the domestic market.
President Donald Trump boasted in an interview with Fox News about having had a “tough talk” with his British colleague, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, over the Huawei matter.
He told the head of the British government that he could “forget about Scotland Yard” if his country went ahead with its 5G deal with the Chinese telecom titan, “because we can’t do business with you”, Trump outlined his argument.
The president did not clarify what he meant by “forget Scotland Yard”, but it was widely taken as a nod towards intelligence sharing between the two countries under the so-called “Five Eyes” agreement.
Last month Britain announced a total ban on Huawei’s 5G gear, in the wake of Washington’s massive lobbying campaign, citing national security reasons.
The UK government announced it would ban the purchase of new 5G equipment from Huawei from January onwards and force operators to weed out the existing Huawei kit already in use by 2027. It was essentially an about-face from Johnson’s previous decision, after Washington raised concerns Huawei and its top-notch kits could potentially serve as a back door for Chinese intelligence – a claim the company vehemently denied, inviting independent checks in response.
Earlier this year, the British prime minister allowed the Chinese firm to be partially (up to 35 percent) involved in the UK’s domestic 5G market, in its most non-sensitive segments.
As speculation mounted that Britain could reverse its original decision, China’s top diplomat in London warned such a move would damage Chinese trust in dealings with the UK. At a virtual press briefing in London, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming warned Mr Johnson that “you cannot have a golden era if you treat China as an enemy”.
However, there were naturally proponents of the new decision:
“We have to have confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which (new technologies) are built”, Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, said about the revisited decision.
Separately, shortly after Britain’s change in policy, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded the move saying the PM’s decision was “reflective of what he believes is in the best interests of the people of the UK”.
Having mentioned multiple talks with their European partner, Pompeo asserted:
“I think the UK made a good decision but that [the] right decision was made not because the US said but because the leadership in the UK concluded the right thing to do was to make that decision for the people of the UK”.
Washington earlier blacklisted Huawei and insistently urged other countries to follow suit, claiming that the tech giant uses its equipment to spy on behalf of the Chinese authorities. Both Huawei and Beijing have denied these allegations, accusing the US of unfair business practices and espionage in return.