US officials warn UK against using Huawei for 5G infrastructure, calls the act ‘madness’

As the UK government prepares to decide whether or not to allow Huawei to be involved in setting up a key portion of the nation’s infrastructure, US officials have issued a stark warning that allowing the Chinese firm a role would put transatlantic intelligence sharing at risk. Senior U.S. officials visited London on Monday with the last-ditch plea to disallow Huawei from the country’s 5G development.

The officials handed over a dossier of technical information which sources claim challenged British intelligence’s own technical assessment that it would be possible to use Huawei in the 5G infrastructure without risks to national security. US sources refused to comment on the content of the file, only saying that it would be “nothing short of madness” to go ahead.

Britain is currently weighing whether to use Huawei equipment as part of its 5G infrastructure. Supporters argue that the company’s equipment can be used in non-core areas in a way that keeps the network secure. But the U.S. warns that the effects of the leap to 5G technology are so poorly understood that the safest and best solution is to keep the Chinese company out altogether.

The head of Britain’s MI5 security service, Andrew Parker, has dismissed suggestions UK-US intelligence sharing could be damaged if Chinese telecoms giant Huawei develops Britain’s 5G network. “Perhaps the thing that needs more focus and more discussion is how do we get to a future where there’s a wider range of competition… than defaulting to a yes or no about Chinese technology,” added Parker, who is standing down in April.

Huawei insists it has never been built any backdoor into its technology by the Chinese government and has offered to sign a “no spy agreement” with countries adopting it. Addressing concerns that the Chinese government could force Huawei’s hand, the firm’s former chairman Liang Hua said last May there were “no laws requiring the companies to collect intelligence from foreign governments”.