Trump lands in the UK as Tories signal Huawei climbdown
President Trump looks set to win the UK’s agreement to ban Huawei from national 5G networks following remarks from leading Conservatives.
Trump has landed on British soil experiencing more turbulence than in the air: Brexit uncertainty is hitting businesses, the outlook for industries like manufacturing across the wider eurozone is even worse, a departing prime minister, and protests around Trump’s state visit are just some of the problems faced by America’s closest ally.
Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, remarked the future of intelligence-sharing between the allies was “to be determined” if Britain went ahead with a plan to allow Huawei to bid for 5G contracts. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted Britain would “never” harm trans-Atlantic intelligence-sharing.
With the premiership of Theresa May at an end, a leadership contest has begun in the sitting Conservative government. Several of the candidates – including Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt – have expressed their concerns with allowing Huawei in national 5G networks.
Mr Javid said he would not want “any company, whichever country it’s from, that has a high degree of control by a foreign government, to have access to our very sensitive tech communications”.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt told US TV station CBS: “We have to ask as Western countries whether it is wise to allow one country to have such a commanding monopoly in the technologies that we’re all of us going to be depending on.”
President Trump is set to meet with current UK PM Theresa May on Wednesday. Huawei will be on the agenda for discussions between the leaders.
Causing a stir
Ahead of his visit, Trump himself caused a stir by insulting London mayor Sadiq Kahn while appearing to back former mayor and PM hopeful Boris Johnson. Many Britons and Americans still remember Trump’s last UK visit when he turned his back on and walked in front of Queen Elizabeth II, breaking royal etiquette.
Trump’s escalating tariff war is affecting global markets. Huawei is caught in the crossfire with not just its telecoms division hit but also its consumer business. While temporarily restored, Huawei lost access to future Android updates, ARM’s chip designs, Qualcomm’s chipsets, and briefly exiled from important groups like the WiFi Alliance, SD Association, and Bluetooth SIG.
Amid the escalating tensions, Huawei has requested its employees to cancel all meetings with US contacts. Meanwhile, American workers at Huawei's headquarters in China have been told to remove laptops and leave the premises. Visitors to Huawei's campuses are being checked for American passports.
Beijing’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, called on the UK government in April to make its own determination on Huawei. Liu urged the UK to resist ‘protectionism’ which is seen from Beijing’s perspective as the reason for the US-China trade war and said: “The last thing China expects from a truly open and fair global Britain is a playing field that is not level.”
We should avoid most of it at Telecoms, but we have a feeling British and American newsrooms are going to have a busy few days.
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