US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has again criticised the UK government’s decision to allow Huawei involvement in the construction of their 5G network, when speaking in London.

Speaking at the Centre of Policy Studies, Pompeo invoked the name of Margaret Thatcher, asking “would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations, through corruption and coercion?”

This is in reaction to Theresa May’s decision to allow the Chinese company to aid the construction of ‘non-core’ parts of the 5G infrastructure. Some reports suggest the Prime Minister followed advice from a report published by the National Cyber Security Centre, an arm of GCHQ. It stated that Huawei’s threats to the future of the 5G network could be handled and minimised.

This decision has proven divisive, meeting strong condemnation and leading to the Prime Minister sacking Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over a National Security Council leak.

It has also met staunch US criticism, as Pompeo said that his thoughts were “well known” regarding Huawei’s involvement, and urged the UK government to resist the company’s wishes.

He sees the attempt to intervene in the construction of the UK’s 5G network as an effort to “divide western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs”, to use the infrastructure for political leverage.

Pompeo concluded by urging the UK to re-consider its position on the matter, as it threatens the ability to share vital intelligence within trusted networks to such partners as the US.

When receiving questions after his speech, Pompeo commented that the nature of Anglo-American economic and defence ties could be reconsidered if the UK pushes ahead with it’s plans for Huawei.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt remarked that the UK would never take actions or steps that would jeopardise intelligence dissemination amongst Five Eyes states (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand).

Is an International Relations and History student, with interests lying especially with cyber security, national security, terrorism, and foreign affairs. Interests in foreign affairs mainly include the current European situation along with the USA. He always strives to learn new things and broaden his horizons. Understanding the past is key to understanding the present.

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Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

“as it threatens the ability to share vital intelligence within trusted networks ” There it is again. What networks? There are links between GCHQ and the NSA and doubtless the other agencies SS / SIS that do not run on public networks, which are separate WANs, apart from the public communications network. Where is it said that Huawei will be providing parts for these networks? The public 5G network is separate, is it not? So how does it threaten intelligence sharing? Why are HMG even considering Huawei? Is their kit cheaper? Better? Why is the UK not following other 5… Read more »

Chris H
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Chris H

@Daniele Mandelli – Its an American politician doing what American politicians do. Exaggerate a situation so they can project a threat. Nice friends to have that prefer threats to persuasion but this seems to be a Republican trait these days. As the article says the PM is only following GCHQ reports and recommendations on allowing HuaWei limited access to certain infrastructure and that would be ‘manageable’. This looks like the Americans saying ‘You do as we say to the letter!’. I am seeing a pattern here as we had Speaker Nancy Pelosi doing the rounds in Ireland and threatening the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

I agree Chris, concerning the American attitude. I consider the threat to reconsider co operation to be hollow. GCHQ NSA are hand in glove, they would be equally damaged by any restriction, and they know it. Along with Pine Gap, their main oversees facility at Menwith Hill is on British soil, what would happen if HMG says stuff you then pack up and clear off. Same for Cyprus, same for Diego Garcia. Their own intelligence collection is damaged. Badly. The SIS has wider links in the Middle East than the CIA, due to our long standing involvement in the region.… Read more »

James Harrington
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James Harrington

I think your right on all those points Chris, but I cannot believe why HMG would even consider allowing the Chinese into our 5G system under any circumstances especially if the Pakistani municipal traffic camera allegations are true and the suggestion that certain equipment used in system / network testings are left inside control boxes by the company.

Iqbal
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Iqbal

‘Maybe Pelosi and Pompeo should remember that it is bad form for a foreign power to intervene in the internal affairs of another state’.

Literally ROFL at this hypocritical screed.

Britain has made a career in interfering in other countries internal affairs from Palestine to Cyprus by way of Czechoslovakia.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Iqbal – Palestine and Cyprus were not ‘interfered with’ at all. The British (and French come to that) became involved in both following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire after a war. Sadly this is what happens when countries go to war – one side loses. In the case of Cyprus after three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 it was placed under the UK’s administration based on the Cyprus Convention in 1878 and was formally annexed by the UK in 1914. It was granted independence in 1960. And where on earth did the UK ever get… Read more »

DaveyB
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DaveyB

I think one of the problems is the interaction between the secure network and the public networks. Unfortunately, Government workers do not have a separate mobile phone network (land line – yes) so must using the public one. They can use encrypted phones to hide conversations and data. However, this still must be sent through the relay towers which work on a “pull, save, push” technique. So when you use your phone, your data is transmitted on one frequency to a tower then temporarily recorded to be rebroadcast on a different frequency to the next tower. This is where the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Davey I did not know the details on the
Interaction between mobile and GTN.

Thank you. If true what the hell is HMG playing at?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

And the point on state oversight is a good one, as our telecoms providers are also compelled to provide certain data to HMG.

Julian
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Julian

Yes. Turning off the network with a hidden kill switch is a concern as is collecting data for later decryption attempts.. Also, even if the encryption is solid, worthwhile intel can still often be gained from endpoint analysis, i.e. who called whom, how often and for how long. I don’t think that it’s widely known (but not secret) but much of Bletchley Park’s work before they could crack Enigma and other codes, and even afterwards, involved traffic (metadata) analysis. With more modern data mining techniques I suspect that more subtle useful traffic patterns might be detectable which could lead to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Well GCGQ NSA do all of that already Julian so it stands to reason the Chinese can too.

Which itself should be enough to preclude them from our infrastructure.

I wonder if it will ever come to light just what HMG is playing at?

Julian
Guest
Julian

Not just “doing all of that already” – GCHQ, or rather its predecessors, have been doing it since the 1940s or even 1930s hence my reference to Bletchley Park! I was trying to add to DaveyB’s explanation of the various ways our networks could be compromised even without needing to crack encryption. The Chinese definitely can and I’m sure do do sophisticated analysis of metadata.

spyintheskyuk
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spyintheskyuk

Thats illuminating and probably explains (which I only heard yesterday and have no details) that Vodaphone has already reportedly detected questionable activity in some of its European network regarding Huawei equipment. One presumes that it is not simply GCHQ et al where the fears lie (thats probably negligible no doubt) but far wider data movements involving all manner of companies and businesses working on both sensitive economic and most worryingly defence projects. As for why Huawei, the simple fact is that their technology is presently more advanced and cheaper than alternatives in terms of 5g rather like its difficult to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Spy.

Dan
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Dan

The incident you are referring to wasn’t the one Bloomberg reported, was it, where there was a supposed backdoor found in Huawei routers on the Vodafone network in Italy? I believe that turned out to be a Telnet-based remote debug interface used during development work that someone had forgotten to remove.

Lee1
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Lee1

The 5G network will be part of the wider system. Yes there are separate secure communications for very important things but many MOD workers will be using public systems and any obvious weakness is a problem. Huawei is a danger in this respect as it has proven that it can not really be trusted on security. Many of their infrastructure devices have major flaws that are either put there on purpose or are due to a lack of good procedures. Either way they are a threat. Add to that the fact that all Chinese companies are required by Chinese law… Read more »

James Harrington
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James Harrington

Lee all above on point, but let me suggest you modify your last sentence to “very” bad… thank you.

Mark
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Mark

Backdoor into UK telecoms is not a good idea. I’m not even going to join in the speculation as to why. Bad move. We elect our politicians to make sensible decisions based on security advise. I hope for all our sakes people are telling them and they are listening.

maurice10
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maurice10

The whole things smells like a poisoned challis!

billythefish
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billythefish

Per my previous comments on this site – we will only be able to take a different path from our most important strategic partner for so long before they (rightly) begin to question the status.

UK sides with Iran and EU against US
UK side with Huawei and China, against the US and other 5 eyes participants

We have a lot to lose here and pretty much nothing to gain…it’s a failing strategy driven by an ideology set hard in the FCO and Downing Street.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@bilythefish – So what if they question the ‘status’? We have nothing of which to be ashamed and are a major player in global Intelligence. But we cannot and must not buy friendship. And personally I trust GCHQ and the invisible people if they say limited use of HuaWei hardware is ‘manageable’ and therefore secure. They are the people who keep us safe every day of the year. One could also paint the picture as: * USA unilaterally breaks an International Treaty with the UK, EU and Iran * USA dictates use of HuaWei to its 5 Eyes partners as… Read more »

Lee1
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Lee1

I do think the US is correct on this one. The UK intelligence services have not said they think we should install Huawei equipment they have said that as long as it is limited then it is manageable. That does not fill me with hope as “manageable” means more work for our Security services as they will need to continue to audit the equipment more rigorously. Why bother when there are other suppliers that do not pose as high a risk?

spyintheskyuk
Guest
spyintheskyuk

I guess similar ‘experts’ of a different flavour advised that cladding of the nature on Grenfell was ‘manageable’ too. Problem with various British Governments and indeed other bodies they have been so often been proved wrong at a later date when the costs to the Nation have been substantially beyond any proposed savings. I don’t know if in this particular case there is real concerns or its US bluster for the most part just saying that I have little faith in anything our politicians and advisors claim especially in light of recent events.

spyintheskyuk
Guest
spyintheskyuk

Would be interesting to know who the alternative suppliers would be (American I wonder) and what the related costs and delays might be in this matter should we all look else where. I guess if all the West decided to stick together any delay would not impact on individual states that much if at all, the rest I can’t really make a guess upon. I do guess that Britain looking for post Brexit advances in Asia might might feel the risk more worth taking than many others. Not sure what Italys take is considering their frowned upon big deals with… Read more »

James Harrington
Guest
James Harrington

Chris, all those comments are the basic description of the relationship with the US as it stands. I’s a deplorable situation for us to have withsucjh an ally, or be treated by them in this way. However, I just cannot imagine allowing the Chinese into more UK infrastructure, they are worse than the US by a massive degree. All those arguments are appropriate as to the Chinese.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@James Harrington – Well I am not sure we have ever had a ‘Special Relationship’ with the Chinese or indeed that we founded their country. That isn’t to defend what is a harsh communist regime but I just think we need to ask more questions about where this HuaWei ‘issue’ fits in the US vs China trade war Trump has initiated entirely for home consumption. Who has decided HuaWei is the threat it is? And if it is not secure for our use at low levels of infrastructure why have the security people (on whom the USA allegedly rely) found… Read more »

spyintheskyuk
Guest
spyintheskyuk

I read only the other day just how concerned other 5 eyes members are that New Zealand are getting into bed with the Chinese. The Canadians in particular that New Zealand unlike the EU and others refused to criticise China’ arrest of two Canadians in response to the Canadian’s arrest of the Huawei Chief Financial Officer on a US warrant. China is putting a lot of pressure on small vulnerable countries especially in the pacific and New Zealand has fallen for the bait of Chinese investment in the Country and its use for political influence thereafter. A little ironic therefore… Read more »

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

Why take the risk? That is both the simplest and most pertinent security question.

AV
Guest
AV

Rightly so in my opinion.

Simon
Guest
Simon

Reminds me of the USA’s Suez Crisis blackmail. “Special Relationship” my arse!

However, I do happen to agree with him NOT to use Huawei.

So on balance, a neutral report 🙂

farouk
Guest
farouk

I don’t think the government have fully understood the concept of cybercrime yet.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Indeed as can be seen by their insistence on backdoors in encryption systems… It is mindbogglingly backwards on these issues.

farouk
Guest
farouk

Lee,
Somebody in Parliament must have received a backhander when they decided to have Huawei operate Britain’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre where equipment used in the UK built by Huawei is checked for security issues. Its like having Jimmy Saville babysit your kids

James Harrington
Guest
James Harrington

The fact that we have to have this security evaluation center in the first instance is a huge question mark over the policy to allow Chinese equipment in UK infrastructure. It’s madness to allow them in any further.

No1_Dave
Guest
No1_Dave
Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

The issue is wider than this network, China has an avowed aim to dominate the world using mercantilism, in the fields of both production and knowledge. Mercantilism is literally war by other means it’s as great a threat to the west as Russian nuclear missiles. If anyone thinks this is hyperbole just consider for one moment how a small island with a population of 30-40 million came to rule the greatest empire the world has ever known. It was not through military aggression and overwhelming military power( although military and political power had its place in the mix) It was… Read more »

No1_Dave
Guest
No1_Dave
Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Yes very interesting, it goes back to my point of how China is using the old British imperial handbook. Using private companies and capital, that in true are NGOs or arms of the state in all but name (a 21st century iteration of the east India company). The really sad thing is it takes a recipient nations ruling classes to be complicit for this type of mercantilism to really work. Britain would never have been able to rule the Indian sub continent through the application of military power (it would have required millions of men under arms), instead it ruled… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

Brilliantly put. As you say, we really should know better.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Repeat post

peter french
Guest
peter french

Is THeresa May of her rocker , no answer please. If our closest allies are fearfull then we should be too,
This is the sort off decision that Corbyn would make not a Conservative Government. One despairs.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Corbyn, would be less likely to do this as he is not a neoliberal and is therefore not dogmatically required to buy the cheapest and follow the market even if it harms our nation.

Not saying his other ideas don’t have dangers, but this one is most deffo a neoliberal stupidness not a communist one.

dan
Guest
dan

PM may is doing this because she hates Trump. Very short sided of her and dangerous to British security.