What Exactly is US Policy on Five Eyes Intelligence Sharing and Huawei/5G?

Further to the post immediately below and two recent stories,

Huawei’s 5G vs Canadian National Security, or, Do Our Cringing Capitalist Compradors Win?

Telus [a Canadian telco] plans rollout of 5G network using Huawei technology

Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump see Huawei the same.’ 5G in Europe aligns America’s top political rivals

MUNICH ― U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed President Donald Trump’s warning to European allies that letting Chinese telecom giant Huawei build their next-generation communication network, or 5G, poses a grave threat ― a rare note of bipartisan harmony after a divisive impeachment…

the Trump administration now seems to be adding to the usual confusion about what some of its policies actually are:

US won’t change intelligence sharing policy with UK despite Huawei decision

Munich (CNN) – The Trump administration will not change its intelligence sharing policy with the United Kingdom despite contentious disagreements over the UK’s recent decision to rely on China’s Huawei to help build its next generation of super-fast wireless networks, senior administration officials said Friday [Feb. 14].

Robert Blair, a top adviser to President Donald Trump who was recently named special representative for international telecommunications policy, said the United Kingdom would have to take a “hard look” at its decision to use Huawei equipment, but asserted that “there will be no erosion in our overall intelligence sharing.”

The Trump administration had been pressing for a total ban on Huawei products, alleging that Beijing could use the equipment for snooping. It had warned that US-UK intelligence sharing could be put at risk.

Last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opted to go ahead with plans to let the Chinese company develop Britain’s 5G network as part of his agenda of “leveling up” regions across the country through improved infrastructure.

Trump “tore into” Johnson in a phone call after the announcement was made, according to a person familiar with the call.

Following the UK decision, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would have a conversation with the UK “about how to proceed” after its decision. He noted that the US needed to evaluate what the UK’s decision on 5G actually means.

“It’s a little unclear precisely what they’re going to permit and not permit so we need to take a little bit of time to evaluate that,” Pompeo said in January. “But our view is we should have western systems with western rules and American information should only pass across a trusted network. We’ll make sure we do that.”

The UK argues that there is currently no alternative to Huawei and so it’s forced to rely on the Chinese company until there is a compatible western technology.

5G allows greater and faster data processing and is seen as an integral component of new interconnected technologies such as automated vehicles and smart appliances.

Blair said he “vehemently” disagrees with the argument, saying that “there are alternatives — and qualified and capable alternatives.” He named Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia as possible industry leaders in this emerging technology.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Blair, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy Robert Strayer said that the US is looking to develop a partnership with the telecoms industry to provide alternatives to China’s Huawei Technologies…

It’s not just the UK that has been grappling with the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been reluctant to exclude specific providers from the country’s 5G networks. Her political party has backed a strategy paper that could potentially curtail Huawei’s involvement in Germany’s 5G rollout by barring “untrustworthy” companies deemed to be subject to state influence from the process, without issuing a fun ban…

Will the US be tougher on intelligence sharing with Canada, given the close intertwining of our networks, the power imbalance in the Americans’ favour, and the much greater benefit we get from the sharing than they do? Interesting times ahead.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3Ds

6 thoughts on “What Exactly is US Policy on Five Eyes Intelligence Sharing and Huawei/5G?”

  1. Now see this–what is going on?

    ‘Senior US delegation to fly to London to urge government to change its position on Huawei
    In what will be seen as a sign of strain in UK-US relations, the delegation is expected to deliver a “b—–king” to British officials

    A delegation of senior US officials, including Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff, will fly to London on Wednesday [Feb. 19] to raise concerns over Boris Johnson’s decision to give Huawei 5G access.

    Mick Mulvaney is planning to come to Downing Street to “call for government to change its position,” a source close to the White House delegation said.

    In what will be seen as a sign of strain in UK-US relations, the delegation is expected to deliver a “b—–king” to British officials, the source said.

    They added: “One thing is on the agenda, and it’s not a trade deal. It is Huawei.”

    Mr Johnson is set to publish the UK’s mandate for trade talks with the US after next week’s half term recess.

    It came amid concerns over the UK’s decision to downgrade its presence at the Munich Security…’

    Mark Collins


  2. Plus this:

    “Boris Johnson faces a ‘b****cking’ from White House officials after giving Huawei the green-light on Britain’s 5G network and putting US trade deal at risk

    *Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will lead delegation to Britain
    *Despite US fury, Mr Johnson plowed ahead with plans to let Huawei build the 5G
    *Meanwhile Australia called off a trip to meet Dominic Raab over Huawei decision

    Mark Collins


  3. And from the secdef–would seem to be a preponderance on the policy way ahead–for now:

    ‘US defence secretary warns Huawei 5G will put alliances at risk
    Mark Esper says countries using Chinese technology will put intelligence cooperation at risk

    The US defence secretary, Mark Esper, warned that US alliances including the future of Nato were in jeopardy if European countries went ahead with using Chinese Huawei technology in their 5G networks.

    Esper also warned future intelligence cooperation would be at risk, as the US would no longer be certain its communications networks were secure.

    His remarks at the Munich security conference on Saturday, bolstered by similar warnings from the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, remove any doubt that the US sees finding an alternative to Huawei as central to its own security.

    Australia’s intelligence and security committee has pulled out of a visit to Britain next month over the fallout from Boris Johnson’s controversial decision to allow Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Australia, like the US, has banned Huawei from its communication networks over security concerns.

    Esper said he had not looked at the UK’s specific plans to incorporate Huawei into part of its 5G network in detail, and admitted the US was vulnerable to the charge that it had not produced an alternative to Huawei for Europe.

    He said he was willing to work with European partners to see if firms such as Ericsson could develop an alternative, and that Washington is currently working to support the development of other options.

    “We are encouraging allied and US tech companies to develop alternative 5G solutions and we are working alongside them to test these technologies at our military bases as we speak,” he said.
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    “Developing our own secure 5G networks will outweigh any perceived gains from partnering with heavily subsidised Chinese providers that answer to party leadership.”

    Esper admitted the response to US demands to stay clear of Huawei had been mixed, and said too many countries were focused on short-term economic gain rather than the long-term threat to security…’

    Mark Collins


  4. Aussies vs Brits:

    ‘Huawei dispute with UK escalates as Australian MPs snub Britain by planning US trip

    Members of Federal Parliament’s intelligence committee are escalating their feud with the British Government by planning a visit to the United States, instead of a now-cancelled trip to London.

    The pointed snub is the latest diplomatic flare-up between Australia and the UK after its recent decision to allow Chinese telco Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G network.

    Earlier the ABC revealed UK High Commissioner Vicki Treadell had taken the rare step of writing to the heads of two Australian committees to formally protest against the leaking of confidential conversations

    Despite warnings from its “five-eyes” intelligence sharing partners Australia and the United States, the British Government has not banned Huawei technology from its next generation of high-speed wireless networks.

    In a Sydney Morning Herald report last week, deputy intelligence committee chair and Labor MP Anthony Byrne was said to have chastised the UK’s visiting Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about the Huawei controversy.

    The only other participants in the closed-door Canberra meeting were Ms Treadell, the chair of Parliament’s intelligence committee and Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, and Liberal senator David Fawcett, who chairs the foreign affairs committee.

    One committee member described the high commissioner’s decision to write formal complaints as “foolish” and “a big mistake” for a civil servant to make…’

    Mark Collins


  5. Another look at the US at the Munich Security Conference:

    ‘The U.S. and Europe Are Speaking a Different Language on China
    Dire American warnings about the threat from Beijing fall on deaf ears at the Munich Security Conference…

    In Munich, the sense of U.S. policy disarray was reinforced when U.S. officials effectively admitted that they had been bluffing with their repeated threats to rein in intelligence sharing with Britain and other European countries that choose Huawei for their 5G networks. Implausibly, they also denied ever having issued such threats. “We’ve learned that you can’t believe everything, or possibly anything, they say,” a European diplomat said.

    The hosts listened to the U.S. warnings about China politely. But even the conference host, Wolfgang Ischinger, a veteran German diplomat, couldn’t help but push back against the American torrent, reminding the audience gathered in the Bayerischer Hof that China was in the midst of tackling the coronavirus, an epidemic of historic proportions, with implications for the entire world.

    “I think China deserves some compassion, cooperation, some words of support, and encouragement rather than only criticism,” he said.

    German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier kicked off the conference by lumping the United States together with China and Russia as major challenges for Europe. “Our closest ally, the United States of America, under the current administration, rejects the very concept of the international community,” he said…’

    Mark Collins


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