LONDON (Reuters) – China is using telecommunications giant Huawei to try to make a barrier between Britain and the United States, Republican Senator Tom Cotton told British lawmakers on Tuesday.
A man passes a Huawei company logo at the International Consumer Electronics Expo in Beijing, China, August 2, 2019. REUTERS / Thomas Peter
Cotton is one of several members of the US Congress who tried to pressure Britain to reverse its January decision to assign China's Huawei Technologies a limited role in building Britain's next-generation 5G networks.
"It is my hope that the special relationship will remain strong, although I fear that China is trying to create a high-tech wedge between us using Huawei," Cotton told the British parliament's defense committee.
The United States raised security concerns about Huawei's equipment, saying it could be used to steal Western secrets, and warned that allies who use them on their networks are at risk of being prevented from sharing valuable information. Huawei has repeatedly denied the US claims.
Britain said the involvement of "high-risk" companies like Huawei would be limited to 35% and would be excluded from the network's sensitive core.
Last month, the Daily Telegraph reported that after the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had asked authorities to plan to reduce China's involvement in the British 5G infrastructure to zero by 2023.
"I hope that, as the government refines its decision, that, if not reversing it immediately, will mitigate and minimize the use of Huawei technology, it will put it in a shorter timeframe," said Cotton.
"I would like this decision to reach zero in 2023 and would urge you to try to do so even earlier," he added.
Since the British decision on Huawei, relations between London and Beijing have been strained by the situation in Hong Kong.
Britain said on Tuesday that Beijing should move away from the introduction of a national security law in Hong Kong that it said violated the 1984 agreement that marks the handover of its former colony to China.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Jack Stubbs; Editing by Angus MacSwan