May 14, 2019 / 3:30 PM / 2 months ago

Britain downplays Huawei threat to U.S. intelligence sharing

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain would never take a decision on Huawei and 5G that would threaten its intelligence sharing alliance with the United States but it also does not want a new Cold War with China, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday.

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is under intense scrutiny after the United States told allies not to use its technology because of fears it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying. Huawei has categorically denied this.

“We as a government are going through the process of making an assessment to what extent if, at all, we are able to use Huawei kit,” Jeremy Hunt told a Wall Street Journal conference.

“We are never going to make a decision which compromises our intelligence sharing with our five eye partners.”

Hunt said that Britain must find a way to work with China, which he said will overtake the United States as the world’s biggest economy within the next 25 years.

“The growth of China is something that we should welcome,” he said. “We need to avoid an unnecessary Cold War with China.”

“We couldn’t stop the growth of China if we wanted to,” he said. “So we need to find a way of living alongside this big, new power in the world because they are going to be there whether you want it or not.”

Reporting By Guy Faulconbridge. Editing by Andrew MacAskill

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