UK race for Theresa May's job weighs on Huawei decision

With British Prime Minister Theresa May about to hand over the reins of power, candidates to succeed her now feel free to speak out on issues such as Huawei's role.
With British Prime Minister Theresa May about to hand over the reins of power, candidates to succeed her now feel free to speak out on issues such as Huawei's role.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - United States President Donald Trump is in Britain this week to urge the government to keep Huawei Technologies out of the country's 5G telecoms infrastructure. And in the race to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, senior ministers in her government are keen to agree.

With Mrs May about to hand over the reins of power, candidates to succeed her now feel free to speak out on issues such as Huawei's role. In that contest, there is no advantage being seen as soft on security. So Sunday (June 2) saw both Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt offer strong hints that they wanted to block the Chinese company.

"I would not want any company, whichever country it's from, that has a high degree of control by a foreign government to have access to our very sensitive telecommunications network," Mr Javid told the BBC.

On the question of security, Mr Hunt told CBS: "We'd never take a decision that affected our intelligence sharing capability with the US. And we have to look at the technical issues which are around whether buying products from a specific country could be a backdoor to espionage."

The Foreign Secretary went further, arguing that it was a strategic question about China.

"They've said they want to have an 80 per cent market share of telecoms technology and in other areas like artificial intelligence, they want a 90 per cent market share by 2025," he said. "And we have to ask as western countries whether it's wise to allow one country to have such a commanding monopoly in the technologies that we're all of us going to be depending on."

Mrs May's government has been debating Huawei's role for months. The Prime Minister sacked Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson last month, accusing him of having leaked details of Cabinet discussions on the issue.