Britain’s National Security Council is poised to decide whether to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to build aspects of its new high speed mobile network, a pivotal decision with implications for the country’s diplomatic relations with the United States and China.
The infrastructure program is seen as being critical to Britain’s economic future as the country leaves the European Union. But the decision is fraught, as the United States objects to the contract because of Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government and has threatened to cut off intelligence cooperation if the deal goes forward.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump discussed the issue last week, just days ahead of the council’s meeting Tuesday. The Financial Times has reported the meeting is expected to agree that the company can play a restricted role in the project.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the U.K., allow consumers, businesses in the U.K. to have access to fantastic technology, fantastic communications, but also protect our security interests and protect our key partnerships with other security powers around the world,” Johnson said.
Such a decision is exceedingly awkward for Johnson’s government, as he risks the fury of one of Britain’s closest allies at just the moment it really needs Trump’s administration to quickly strike a trade deal after Brexit. Britain is also loathe to insult China, which it also needs for future trade deals.