Feb 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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

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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Huawei loses a round against Congress in federal court

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Huawei lost a round in court Tuesday, with a federal judge ruling that Congress was within its rights to exclude agencies and contractors from buying gear from Huawei and ZTE.

The big picture: This is one battle in the larger and more multifaceted conflict between Washington and Beijing that's playing out in courts, through trade negotiations and in public rhetoric.

Huawei makes its case against U.S. hostilities

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Two top Huawei U.S. executives are at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, hoping the crowd of security experts will be more receptive to its position than have been policymakers in Washington, where the Chinese giant has gotten an increasingly hostile reception.

The big picture: Huawei's business has been under all manner of attack from the U.S. government, from trade sanctions to criminal charges to efforts to persuade allies not to buy their gear.

U.S. bans could make Huawei stronger

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S.'s blunt policy of walling itself off from Huawei could backfire, making the Chinese telecom giant even stronger in the long term.

Why it matters: The grand decoupling of American and Chinese tech amid trade tensions and cybersecurity concerns, of which Huawei is at the center, is pushing China's companies to become increasingly self-reliant. Huawei's progress could position it to take the lead in the global U.S.-China tech race, experts say.