The issue of China’s Huawei and its 5G technology is creating deep tensions once again between the US and some European allies, this time threatening the usually iron-clad Anglo-American relationship and defense ties.
The Telegraph Monday evening broke the explosive story that the White House is currently investigating the potential for US spy planes, as well as intelligence networks and officials who ware currently operational in the UK to be compromised by Huawei’s presence in Britain.
The report anonymously quotes half a dozen current US and UK officials saying the Trump administration’s review is active and could have huge ramifications for the “special relationship” between the historic long-term allies.
Of top concern is said to be state of the art reconnaissance aircraft based in Britain, particularly the RC-135 spy planes, capable of sweeping up vast intelligence from battlefields. The sophisticated aircraft are thought to be especially vulnerable after Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously gave the formal go-ahead for Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G network.
US officials who spoke to The Telegraph emphasized it’s not a bluff:
One former official who only recently left the White House’s National Security Council (NSC), which is leading the review, said it was “likely” some assets would be removed from Britain.
The source said: “This was not a bluff. You cannot mitigate the danger Boris Johnson is exposing the UK to by letting Huawei into the network.”
“This review is not a punishment. This is the White House saying ‘okay, if they’re going to go down this path and put themselves at risk then how do we protect ourselves.’”
The review marks a significant escalation in the Huawei row, with the US now going beyond words of warning and taking concrete steps that could end up harming military and intelligence ties.