National Security

The EU Ignores Trump’s Unsubstantiated Demand to Ban Huawei

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Trump regime had lobbied the British government to completely ban Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei from their next generation mobile data networks and even threatened to cease sharing intelligence with the United Kingdom over the decision, but the Johnson administration announced yesterday that Huawei will have access to the networks with some restrictions.

The European Union (EU) has now set guidelines for governing the next generation of networks for their member states and while the new guidelines say each country should take a close look at Huawei or other companies that may pose a threat, the guidelines do not call for banning Huawei.

From the New York Times:

The European Union told its members on Wednesday that they should limit so-called high-risk 5G vendors, a category that includes the Chinese tech giant Huawei, but stopped short of recommending a ban on the firm, despite a lengthy and aggressive campaign by the Trump administration. [...]

The twin announcements, in Brussels on Wednesday and London on Tuesday, represent a victory for the Chinese tech giant, which has launched a charm offensive in Europe after it was practically banned from doing business in the United States.

They also highlighted the limited impact of a monthslong, intensive and highly publicized lobbying effort by the Trump administration, which pressured both the European Union as a whole and member countries individually to follow its lead and ban Huawei.

In closely related news, the Canadian government is reportedly considering following in London's footsteps and does not appear to be interested in banning Huawei from their next generation of networks.

Furthermore, and as I hypothesized yesterday when the British decision was announced, it does not appear that Canada's national security establishment is lighting their hair on fire over the decision.

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, the only member of an elite intelligence-sharing network yet to decide whether to allow the use of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd 5G technology, on Tuesday said it was studying Britain’s decision not to ban the Chinese telecoms giant from the West’s next-generation communications. [...]

Two sources directly familiar with the matter said security officials were split over Huawei. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) - which gathers signals intelligence - was taking a more dovish line than the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) spy agency, they said.

“CSE considers this is a technical question that can be managed while CSIS is totally opposed to opening the door to possible espionage,” said one source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. The split was first reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper.

I'm not personally qualified to say whether or Huawei is a legitimate threat to national security as the Trump regime claims, but do I feel qualified to read what's right in front of us and see that the Trump regime is almost completely isolated on this decision.

Dozens of foreign intelligence services have evidently taken a closer look and concluded that there's no legitimate, legal reason to completely ban the use of Huawei equipment in the next generation of networks. Britain and the EU (and probably Canada) will not allow the use of Huawei equipment in critical infrastructure like nuclear power plants, but those are entirely reasonable restrictions to impose on any foreign company.

Trump cried wolf on Huawei by banning the company from doing business in the United States as leverage in his trade war with China and you do not actually have to be employed by a foreign intelligence service to see that. The Trump regime very publicly worked backward from the decision to ban Huawei and came up with reasons for doing so after the fact.

In the specific case of Canada, the country already stuck their neck out once by arresting a Huawei executive (for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran that Trump unilaterally re-imposed) on behalf of American authorities. China responded by imposing duties on Canadian agricultural goods and the Trump regime did not lift a finger to help them.

The regulation of telecommunications equipment is not necessarily my forte or something I regularly spend a lot of time discussing, but this is clearly more expansive than that. This is a very broad repudiation of the United States in the realm of national security that we don't typically see. At least not before Trump.

As an American, I'm certainly not insulted nor do I feel threatened by it. I am embarrassed by Trump.

  • muselet

    As I’ve noted before, the rumor mill has long claimed Huawei builds a backdoor into its equipment for the benefit of the Chinese government. If true, everything passing through anything made by Huawei might as well be in plaintext.

    For what it’s worth, the company denies any such backdoor exists and that it wouldn’t install one even if ordered to do so.

    I don’t blame the UK, the EU and Canada (Just as a sidebar: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is being a bit unrealistic about 5G equipment. Anything more sophisticated than two cans and a piece of string can be a “door to possible espionage.”) for ignoring the over-the-top concerns of the Trump administration, but I sincerely hope they did their due diligence and didn’t just do the opposite of what the US was insisting.

    I really hate having to hope things like that.

    –alopecia