- The Trump administration is furious with Boris Johnson’s administration over plans to build a Huawei research centre in England.
- A senior US official warned China could attach itself like a ‘parasite’ to the UK through Huawei, which has close links to the Chinese Communist party.
- It follows Boris Johnson’s approval of a plan to allow Huawei to build part of its 5G network, despite fierce opposition from Washington.
- Trump slammed the phone down on Boris Johnson earlier this year in a moment of “apoplectic” fury over the issue.
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The Trump administration is furious with Boris Johnson over plans to build a Huawei centre in England, with a senior official warning that China could attach itself like a “parasite” to the UK.
Huawei, the tech giant with alleged close links to the Chinese government, is planning to build a £400 million research facility in Cambridgeshire which will focus on developing chips for broadband. It follows Boris Johnson’s approval of a plan to allow Huawei to build part of its 5G network, despite fierce opposition from Washington.
Trump reportedly hung the phone up on Johnson earlier this year in a moment of “apoplectic” fury, after the UK prime minister refused to heed his previous warnings about Huawei.
Responding to the mooted plans for a new research facility, which has been recommended by planning officers in Cambridgeshire, Keith Krach, the US undersecretary of state for economic growth, told the Times newspaper that the US was worried about a “parasite” attaching itself to the UK in the form of Huawei, which he called “an extension of the Chinese government.”
Krach said the UK should “put the whole thing in perspective — aggressive tactics of the Chinese Communist party, because it all starts from there.”
“They are after the people and technology,” he told the newspaper. “They want to co-opt the researchers, and talent from one of the most prestigious universities. They want to get their hands on the technology and IP [intellectual property] to take back to China.”
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also “really furious” about the move, the Times reported.
Huawei insists that it is a privately owned company which is not subject to Chinese government influence and denies that it poses a security threat.
However, a report from Conservative MP Bob Seely and two academics last year said that the firm was “subject to influence by the Chinese state.”
Boris Johnson has come under significant pressure from Conservative MPs to reset the party’s relationship with China amid fears that it is too dependent on Beijing for vital imports and could be increasingly dependent upon it for infrastructure projects.
Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP who chairs the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Business Insider in April that Beijing had “constantly lied” about the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and had “failed to face up to its responsibilities.”
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The prime minister, who approved the Huawei 5G deal in January, is said to have hardened his position towards China in the months since. When the deal was originally approved, Pompeo urged the UK to “relook” at its decision, warning that the project created “real risk” for UK national security.
According to the Spectator magazine, Johnson’s own position shifted since the pandemic began, not because of the origin of the virus in China, but principally because it revealed how the UK is heavily dependent on China for essential goods, such as personal protective equipment for frontline doctors and health staff.
Tugendhat told Business Insider that he believed the prime minister would revisit the Huawei 5G decision in light of the pandemic. “I can’t see how it doesn’t change that. Clearly, it’s going to have implications,” he said.
“It makes the Huawei position hard.”
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