Johnson under pressure from key allies over Huawei access to UK 5G network

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Boris Johnson is coming under renewed pressure from key British allies over his controversial decision to give Chinese tech giant Huawei a role in building the UK’s 5G network.

A delegation of senior US officials – including Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff – are set to fly to London to raise their concerns directly with the Prime Minister, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that MPs on Australia’s intelligence and security committee have pulled out of a visit to the UK next month following a diplomatic row with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Mick Mulvaney, who is leading the US delegation, will call on the UK Government to change its decision on Huawei when they meet Mr Johnson in Downing Street on Wednesday, the Telegraph reported.

Boris Johnson is expected to meet US officials in Downing Street on Wednesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The paper quoted a source close to the delegation as saying they expected to deliver a “bollocking” to British officials.

Read on...

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“One thing is on the agenda, and it’s not a trade deal – it is Huawei,” the source said.

The visit comes after an “apoplectic” President Trump reportedly vented his fury with Mr Johnson when the Prime Minister telephoned him to explain the UK’s decision last month.

The US has repeatedly warned that it would withhold intelligence-sharing from any ally which allowed Huawei access to its communications networks, which it regards as a national security threat.

The furious row has led to Mr Johnson reportedly delaying a planned visit to Washington which had been expected to take place over the spring.

A Number 10 spokesman insisted on Friday that the Prime Minister is still looking forward to travelling to the US but is “currently focused on driving through the Government’s ambitious domestic agenda”.

Germany Munich Security Conference
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has accused Beijing of stealing Western know-how while using its power to intimidate smaller neighbours (Jens Meyer/AP)

American concerns about China were underlined by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper who accused Beijing of stealing Western know-how while using its power to intimidate smaller neighbours.

“The Communist Party and its associated organs, including the People’s Liberation Army, are increasingly operating in theatres outside its borders, including Europe, and seeking advantage by any means, and at any cost,” he said in speech to an international security conference in Munich.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism for downgrading Britain’s presence at the event, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and MI6 Chief Alex Younger pulling out and newly-appointed Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly attending instead.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald said the Australian intelligence and security committee had abruptly called off its visit next month when members had been expected to meet their UK counterparts as well as senior intelligence and security figures.

The paper said the cancellation followed a letter from a senior Australian civil servant to committee chairman Andrew Hastie, rebuking him over a leak of details of a meeting with Mr Raab when MPs on the committee confronted him over the Huawei decision.

Australia – which, like the US, is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance – has banned the Chinese firm from its 5G network because of the potential national security implications.

The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, said the British Government should take such concerns seriously, saying the country faces some “really serious strategic choices” when it comes to China.

“Personally, I would like to stand with countries that share the rule of law, human rights and the values I think are so important,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That means standing with Australia and Canada. It also means standing with countries like France who have also rejected Huawei.

“The decisions we make today will affect how our children are governed in years to come.”

Tory MP Bob Seely, who was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last parliament, said the role of Huawei should form part of the Government’s forthcoming foreign policy and defence review.

“Having hi-tech from high-risk vendors in our critical national infrastructure is wrong on many levels – national security, personal data, Chinese leverage over the UK Government,” he said.

“The Aussies gave a very blunt opinion to the UK. The UK Government should be listening to the message our allies are giving, not moaning that they are giving it.”

There was no immediate response from Downing Street or the Foreign Office.

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    1. I posted the Tweets below to Boris+ his new Govt puppets to day 16.2.2020
      Tweets dated 16.2.2020
      To Boris on CHINA running our country + H.S.2
      By way of Tory party rich puppets in our Govt.
      Boris so your taking back Britain to be run by CHINA GOVT in Dec G.E. 2019 you and your party members failed to speak of this sell out of U.K. TO CHINA WHY Boris. If you had spoken about this maybe your party would not be in power SIR?
      If CHINA can build this H.S.2 rail in 5 + years’ time
      Will they want all the cash us front yes or no?
      So, Tory Govt rich already party member will have to borrow from the Banks in E.U. to pay this bill Boris.
      If CHINA build it Boris will they be running it as well?
      Also, manpower to build fast will be needed will you Boris be dropping all the immigration rule down the toilet to get working China navies to build the rail link.
      Yes or no?? (The E.U. we are leaving voters)
      Boris so your taking back Britain with the help of Cummings + rich Tory party funders just to give our survival it to another country like CHINA.
      FACT Boris our rail link is our lifeline, so you are going
      to give it to China to run SIR WHY?
      Is this why you are selling out our U.K. home security to the China 5.G. Wi-Fi that will be needed to run this new H.S.2 rail line from CHINA area yes or no? Boris
      Now the big question Boris will they be a vote in H.O. Commons plus a public vote on CHINA taking over the build of H.S.2 yes or no? Or are you all rich Tories prepared to betray all us voter on this matter Boris?
      If you do not go to E.U. banks for cash for this project is it going to be funded by our taxpayer local area funding all your Tory M.P. said would come our way if we voted for them in Dec G.E. 2019 we lent our votes
      To you Boris in Dec for the new funding cash for our areas
      You Boris + new Govt puppets must now deliver new funding to all local councils Boris as promised us in Dec G.E. campaign by your party members on the ground campaigning for Tory Govt we kept our part of the agreement we voted for you Boris so now it your turn to pay to pay up.

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