US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to thank the British government for its decision to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies from involvement in the country’s 5G network when he visits London next week, the South China Morning Post has learned.
Pompeo’s trip will also include discussion on human rights in Hong Kong after Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in the special administrative region, sources said.
“Pompeo’s main purpose in London is to thank the British government for the decision it has taken on Huawei,” a source with direct knowledge of preparations for the trip said.
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According to the US State Department, Pompeo will meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to discuss “Covid-19 economic recovery plans, issues related to the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong, and the US-UK free trade agreement negotiations”.
As Pompeo begins his trip, Raab is expected to deliver a speech on China in the parliament on Monday, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle demanding a clear government strategy on the world’s second-biggest economy.
On Tuesday, Pompeo is expected to meet a small group of lawmakers and possibly some human rights activists, sources said.
Bob Seely, a Conservative member of parliament critical of the Chinese government, said he expected Pompeo to listen to different voices – not just in Whitehall, but also in Westminster.
“He would try to get an understanding of both voices. In many ways, parliament is helping lead the policy on China,” Seely, also a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said, adding that Hong Kong would also likely be discussed.
China has suggested that Britain has been acting as a “junior partner” to Washington in targeting Huawei.
“Britain can only be Great Britain and exert a global influence when it has an independent foreign policy. Otherwise it is just a junior partner of the US,” Chinese ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming said in a tweet on Thursday. “The decisions on Huawei are not about security risk, but political pressure.
While London denies this, Pompeo’s trip could fuel suspicion among Chinese diplomats who say they are surprised that Johnson’s government would work closely with the US administration so close to the presidential election.
“The ‘golden era’ between China and Britain is now totally overshadowed by the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the US next week,” a Chinese diplomatic source said.
Pompeo’s trip was first reported by British media just hours after Westminster announced the decision to ban Huawei equipment from its 5G network from next year and to phase out all existing equipment by 2027.
Johnson’s government insisted the Huawei decision was not aimed at China, but only in response to Huawei’s inability to source secure equipment after the US government in May announced sanctions on the Chinese company over links to the Communist Party, a claim Huawei denies.
Later in the week, Pompeo will go to Copenhagen to meet Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the foreign ministers of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland to discuss China, among other issues.
The Faroe Islands has invited Huawei to build 5G networks there, while the US has been trying to curb Chinese influence in Greenland, strategically located between Europe and North America.
The US has sought closer alignment with Europe to confront China. Earlier this week, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien and his Chinese-speaking deputy, Matt Pottinger, met in Paris with their counterparts from France, Britain, Germany and Italy to lobby against the Chinese tech giant.
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More from South China Morning Post:
- Britain bans Huawei from 5G network as Boris Johnson rejects China’s threat of ‘consequences’
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This article US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expected to thank Britain for Huawei 5G ban first appeared on South China Morning Post