Mike Pompeo praises UK decision to remove Huawei from 5G network

Visiting US secretary of state attacks Chinese government’s ‘exploitation’ of pandemic

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has praised the UK government’s decision to remove Huawei from the UK’s 5G network, as he urged like-minded countries to “push back” against the actions of Beijing.

Speaking alongside the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, after the pair held talks, Pompeo launched a strongly worded attack on China, including over the Covid-19 pandemic, which he called “preventable”.

“The Chinese Communist party’s exploitation of this pandemic to further its own aims has been disgraceful,” Pompeo said. “Rather than helping the world, general secretary Xi [Jinping] has shown the world the party’s true face.”

The US’s relations with Beijing have soured dramatically during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The UK government had come under significant pressure from Washington, as well as from Conservative backbenchers, over the role of Huawei, and announced last week it would drive out the Chinese provider from the 5G network by 2027.

Pompeo welcomed that decision, and the suspension of the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong, which Raab announced on Monday.

The UK has also promised that up to 3 million Hong Kong residents will be offered the chance to settle in the UK, and a path to permanent citizenship. “We support those sovereign choices: we think, well done,” Pompeo said.

Criticising China’s actions in a series of areas, he said: “You can’t go and make claim to maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to. You can’t threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas. You can’t engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organization.”

Asked if he would like to see the UK go further, he said: “We want to see every nation who understands freedom and democracy and values that, and knows that it’s important to their own people, to their own sovereign country, to understand the threat that the Chinese Communist party is posing to them, and to work both themselves and collectively to restore what is rightfully ours.”

He added: “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 have mentioned today.”

Trump has been involved in a high-stakes trade war with China for months over allegations of industrial espionage and currency manipulation.

But in recent weeks Washington has also imposed sanctions on high-level Chinese officials over human rights abuses against the Muslim minority Uighur people in the western region of Xinjiang.

China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, defended his country’s human rights record on Sunday, insisting the Uighur people live in “peaceful and harmonious coexistence with other ethnic groups”, as he was confronted with footage of shackled prisoners being herded on to trains.


Heather Stewart Political editor

The GuardianTramp

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