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Donald Trump’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo says ‘well done’ to UK for ‘sovereign’ decision to axe China’s Huawei

Donald Trump’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo says ‘well done’ to UK for ‘sovereign’ decision to axe China’s Huawei

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press conference with the UK’s Dominic Raab. (PA)

4 min read

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heaped praise on Britain for stripping Chinese telecoms firm Huawei of a role in its 5G network.

The top diplomat said “well done” to his UK counterpart Dominic Raab — and insisted Britain had made a “sovereign choice” despite US sanctions piling extra pressure on ministers.

In a punchy statement after talks with Mr Raab in London, Secretary Pompeo accused China’s Communist Park of “exploitation” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And he said of Chinese leader Xi Jinping: “Rather than helping the world, General Secretary Xi has shown the world the party’s true face.

“We talked about how we’ve seen Hong Kong freedoms crushed. We watch the CCP bully its neighbours, militarised features in the South China Sea, and instigate a deadly confrontation with India. 

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the British government for its principled responses to these challenges.”

He said of the UK’s telecoms move and response to a controversial new security law in Hong Kong: “You've made a sovereign decision to ban Huawei from future 5G networks, you've joined other free nations to condemn China's broken promises on the Sino-British treaty. 

“You generously opened your doors to Hong Kongers who seek nothing more fleeing just for some freedom. 

“And yesterday suspended your extradition treaty and extended your arms embargo on China to Hong Kong itself. 

“We support those sovereign choices. We think well done.”

‘NOT ABOUT WORDS’

Secretary Pompeo was pressed on whether he wanted the UK — which has notably shifted its diplomatic position on China in recent months — to do more to confront Beijing, amid disputes over Hong Kong, the treatment of China’s Uighur population and an ongoing trade spat with the United States.

The US official said: “We want every nation to work against that kind of activity, against those actions.

“It's not about language, it's not about words. We want every nation to work together to push back against the Chinese Communist Party's efforts in every dimension that I described today.

“And it certainly includes the United Kingdom, includes every country. We hope we can build out a coalition that understands this threat and will work collectively to convince the Chinese Communist Party is not in their best interest to engage in this kind of behaviour.”

The UK last week confirmed a ban on purchasing Huawei equipment for the country’s 5G network from next January, with a pledge to remove the firm's kit entirely by 2027.

The Government had announced in January that Huawei would have a non-core role in Britain's 5G network with the use of its equipment capped at 35% of the network's peripheral technology.

But major new sanctions unveiled by the US in May which banned Huawei from using American chip technology prompted a fresh safety review by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre.

Asked whether the UK had been “strong-armed” into shifting its stance on Huawei, Mr Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said the UK had taken a “clear sighted” decision and talked up “constructive discussions” with the US.

He said of Secretary Pompeo: “Actually the vast majority of the time our views overlap and we work together very well.”

‘BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES’

The visit by the US Secretary of State, who has held talks with senior UK backbenchers and is due to meet Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, comes after China warned Britain it would “bear the consequences” if it carries on down the “wrong road” on Hong Kong.

The Chinese embassy in London accused Britain of “interfering” in the former colony after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suspended an extradition agreement amid ongoing anger at a controversial security law passed in Hong Kong.

Mr Raab on Monday axed the treaty with Hong Kong "immediately and indefinitely" amid ongoing tensions with the Chinese government, and said the move, coupled with an extension of the embargo on arms exports from the UK to include Hong Kong, was "a necessary and proportionate response" to China's actions.

He said its new security legislation — which clamps down on secession, subversion and terrorism in Hong Kong, the site of long-running pro-democracy protests — represented a "clear and serious of violation" of the longstanding agreement between UK and China.

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