Mike Pompeo warns of 'real risk' from Huawei ahead of UK talks

29 January 2020, 21:25

Mike Pompeo is meeting with Dominic Raab to discuss Huawei
Mike Pompeo is meeting with Dominic Raab to discuss Huawei. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned the UK of the "real risk" posed from Huawei ahead of talks with Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab.

Mr Pompeo said the firm was "an extension of the Chinese Communist Party" and Washington would "evaluate" the UK's decision.

He has arrived in Britain to speak with the prime minister and foreign secretary amid a row over the Chinese tech giant - which has always denied posing a security risk.

Speaking to reporters on the plane to the UK, Mr Pompeo said: "Our view of Huawei has been that putting it in your system creates real risk.

"This is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party with a legal requirement to hand over information to the Chinese Communist Party."

Mr Pompeo was speaking to reporters on his plane to the UK
Mr Pompeo was speaking to reporters on his plane to the UK. Picture: PA

He added that "American information only should pass through trusted networks, and we'll make sure we do that" and suggested the UK could "relook" at the decision in the future.

Mr Johnson has previously said allowing Huawei to play a limited role in the UK's 5G infrastructure would not "imperil our relationship" with Donald Trump's administration.

Huawei's communications director earlier insisted "we're not Chinese spies" following the decision.

Ed Brewster told LBC's Nick Ferrari that a Chinese law - that compels companies to give the Chinese government certain information - had been mischaracterised.

He said: "This law is quite similar to the laws enacted in other countries around legal intercepts - so this issue around companies requesting companies to supply data on citizens.

"That's our interpretation of the law. We've had independent law firms look at it and they've also agreed with that."

On Tuesday, Senior Tories and US officials expressed anger and disappointment over the UK government's decision to approve Huawei's involvement in the 5G rollout.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith led the criticism as he stood up in Parliament to criticise Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to open the door for the Chinese tech giant's limited role in the network upgrade.

He chaired Mr Johnson's leadership campaign, but now accuses him of ignoring warnings from security allies such as the US, saying that "even Vietnam does not want Huawei."

Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative MP who is campaigning for re-election as foreign affairs committee chairman, said it would be "near impossible" to bar Huawei's 5G equipment from "sensitive geographic locations", as claimed by the government.

Ex-cabinet minister David Davis accused the government of preparing to "accept a bribe" from the Chinese state.

However, Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan defended the move, saying the decision "deals with the challenges" the country faces on national security.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab claimed Huawei's involvement in the 5G network will not affect the UK's ability to share "highly sensitive intelligence data" with key allies.