- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed dissatisfaction Wednesday at Britain’s decision to allow China-based telecom giant Huawei into its 5G network development market, asserting there’s still “a chance for the United Kingdom to relook” the decision.

Mr. Pompeo, who arrived in London Wednesday on a previously planned trip, told reporters traveling with him that the Trump administration “will work with the United Kingdom” on the Huawei issue, but stressed that “we were urging them to make a decision that was different than the one that they made.”

“It’s a little unclear precisely what they’re going to permit and not permit, so we need to take a little bit of time to evaluate that,” the secretary of state said. “But our view is that we should have Western systems with Western rules, and American information only should pass through trusted networks.”

His remarks, at the start of a six-day trip to Britain, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, came a day after British officials made their Huawei announcement, rebuffing appeals by the Trump administration, which has pressured U.S. allies around the world to blacklist the Chinese telecom giant.

Administration officials say any country inking contracts with Huawei to help build 5G communications networks presents a security threat because of concern the company is tied too closely to the Chinese government and intelligence services, and will be used as an international spying front for the ruling Communist Party in Beijing.

Allies such as Australia and New Zealand have said they will block Huawei, but the response in Europe has been far more mixed.

The government of Conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Huawei to play what U.K. officials have described as a restricted role in Britain’s advanced 5G wireless network is being closely watched by a number of other U.S. allies preparing to build their own national 5G networks.

U.S. officials are also watching closely and Mr. Pompeo suggested Wednesday that he and his aides are eager to expand existing discussions on the matter with their British counterparts.

“Look, we’ve spoken to the United Kingdom at great length about this both at the political level and a lot at the national security level over the past months and months,” the secretary of state said. “Our view of Huawei has been that putting it in your system creates real risk. This is an extension – an extension of the Chinese Communist Party with a legal requirement to hand over information to the Chinese Communist Party.”

“We’ll have to see what [Britain] actually [does]…and importantly, how they implement what they laid out,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out what that means from an execution and implementation perspective as well. It’s pretty complex.”

Mr. Pompeo added that it is “important for everyone to know there is also real work being done by lots of private companies inside the United States and in Europe to make sure that there are true competitors to Huawei so that we can deliver the very outcomes that I know the United Kingdom was contemplating when they took the decision they did, so that we can deliver true commercial outcomes across real secure networks that aren’t subject to the Chinese Communist Party’s control.”

• Madison Hinreisen contributed to this article.

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