Feb 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence: "We'll see" if U.K.'s Huawei decision threatens trade deal

Vice President Mike Pence

Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC Friday that "we'll see" if the U.K.'s decision to allow Chinese telecom firm Huawei to build part of its 5G network will impact forthcoming trade talks between the U.S. and U.K.

Why it matters: Striking a trade deal with the U.S. is one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top priorities post-Brexit.

  • The U.S. has repeatedly expressed concern over Huawei's technology, arguing that it poses a national security risk since the telecommunication equipment could be used by the Chinese government for espionage.

What he's saying: Pence said the U.S. is "profoundly disappointed" about the decision because he told Johnson in September that "the moment the U.K. was out of Brexit we were willing to begin to negotiate free trade arrangement with the U.K."

  • "But we just don’t believe that utilizing the assets and technologies of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the U.K., of the U.S., and it remains a real issue between our two countries," he added.

The big picture, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: The Huawei debate has become one of the most urgent foreign policy priorities of the Trump administration and one of the more serious tests of the U.S.-U.K. relationship in recent times.

  • It could ultimately lead to the U.S. government curtailing the intelligence it shares with its closest ally, U.S. officials told Axios.

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