The US may withhold intelligence from the UK over its plans to use Huawei equipment in non-core parts of the 5G network , officials in Washington have warned.
Robert Strayer, the deputy assistant secretary for cyber at the US State Department, said Huawei was an “untrustworthy vendor” and it was a risk to involve the Chinese firm in 5G hardware.
It comes after Theresa May’s decision to approve Huawei’s bid to help build Britain’s 5G network.
China’s ambassador to the UK has urged the government to resist US pressure and “act independently” over the growing row about whether the company could facilitate Beijing’s espionage.
Mr Strayer said: “If other countries insert and allow untrusted vendors to build out and become the vendors for their 5G networks we will have to reassess the ability for us to share information and be connected with them in the ways that we are today.”
The suggestion that intelligence may be withheld from the UK shows how tensions have frayed between the two members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance over the issue.
Similar concerns were not raised over American intelligence following numerous leaks of Britain’s secret documents, including through Edward Snowden.
Following intelligence leaks after the Manchester bombing in 2017, the UK stopped sharing information for a short period – an extraordinary cessation of co-operation in what is normally an open and committed partnership when it comes to counter-terrorism.
Whitehall sources confirmed to Sky News that the prime minister took her decision over Huawei despite heavy lobbying from the US and Australia, as well as concerns from some ministers within her cabinet.
The decision is evidently straining relationships between the Five Eyes alliance of intelligence agencies, of which the UK is a part alongside the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The US in particular argues that Huawei, as a Chinese company, is legally obliged to co-operate with state intelligence agencies.
Washington argues that granting it a role in building digital infrastructure creates an increased risk of espionage that threatens the whole alliance.
Source: SKY NEWS