US sulks over UK Huawei campus decision

Once more the UK has failed to do what it’s told regarding its policy towards embattled Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei.

Not satisfied with daring to make up our own mind on the matter of Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G networks, we recently had the temerity to allow it to build a semiconductor optoelectronics R&D centre in Cambridgeshire. This continued willfulness and disobedience has not gone unnoticed on the other side of the pond, with the US state department moaning to the FT as soon as it was announced.

“We believe countries need to be able to trust that partners will not threaten national security, privacy, intellectual property, or human rights,” said the statement. “Trust cannot exist where a company such as Huawei is subject to an authoritarian government, like the PRC, that lacks an independent judiciary or rule of law that would effectively prohibit the misuse of data.”

The statement went on to make a veiled threat by urging countries, “particularly allies and partners like the United Kingdom, to carefully assess the long-term impact of allowing untrusted companies like Huawei access to sensitive information.” These same shadowy global police apparently hassled Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who said “They are concerned about the possibility that US chips will be tested by Huawei in the UK.”

That specific concern presumably stems from the US attempt to ensure Huawei is denied any access to US semiconductor IP. This is forcing the US to expend enormous quantities of political capital in trying to get the rest of the world to play ball, an effort that increasingly looks futile regardless. The US is an important ally, but that works both way and if it keeps trying to bully everyone else it risks becoming increasingly isolated.