Why Britain's Huawei decision may be a 'disaster for the UK-US relationship'

Andrea Leadson.
(Image credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Britain has decided to allow Huawei on its 5G wireless network, rebuffing pressure from the Trump administration.

Britain said Tuesday it won't ban equipment from the Chinese telecommunications company from the network, The New York Times reports, although Huawei will be limited to "less-critical parts of the new network."

This is despite the fact that the United States has warned the U.K. that Huawei, as Axios writes, "is a national security risk, claiming that China could use its equipment for espionage." With that in mind, the Times calls this decision the "starkest sign that an American campaign against the telecommunications company is faltering."

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Just weeks ago, in fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo penned an op-ed in Politico writing that "it's critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei," as the company "is implicated in espionage in the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands, has allegedly stolen intellectual property from foreign competitors in Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, and is accused of bribery and corrupt practices in countries like Algeria, Belgium and Sierra Leone."

The Times notes by "limiting Huawei gear," Britain does provide the Trump administration with a "partial victory." Still, TechCrunch wrote Tuesday that Britain's decision "signals a failure of U.S. diplomacy at the highest level," while Axios' Jonathan Swan called it a "disaster for the U.K.-U.S. relationship." Swan previously reported, citing U.S. officials, the decision "could ultimately lead to the U.S. government curtailing the intelligence it shares with its closest ally."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.