Mnuchin urges UK to ban Huawei from networks

Mnuchin urges UK to ban Huawei from networks
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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: GOP turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks | Millions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks | Senate votes to give coronavirus relief program more flexibility The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Val Demings calls for a new DOJ Office of Police Standards; Trump, GOP to pull convention from NC Lobbying world MORE urged the United Kingdom to ban equipment made by Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from its networks as the U.K. inches closer to a deadline to make a decision on the issue.

Mnuchin said Thursday that he would meet with the British finance minister this weekend to discuss banning Huawei equipment, Reuters reported, something the U.S. has been pushing its allies to do over the past year.

“Let me just say again, it’s a complicated issue,” Mnuchin said, according to Reuters. “We’ve made very clear that it relates to all of the critical areas that we have significant concerns. But again, there’s ongoing discussion on these issues.”

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The comments come as the U.S. has heavily encouraged allied nations to cut Huawei out of their networks, citing concerns over a Chinese intelligence law that requires Huawei to help with state intelligence work.

The U.K. has been weighing whether to ban Huawei equipment from use in core networks, with The Guardian reporting on Thursday that sources within the government believe British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely allow Huawei to continue to play at least some role in the deployment of the country’s 5G network. A final decision on the issue is expected next week. 

Huawei, which is the largest producer of telecom equipment in the world, has consistently pushed back against allegations made by the U.S. government. 

The U.S. has taken multiple steps against Huawei, including the Commerce Department adding the company to its “entity list” in 2019, effectively banning American groups from doing business with Huawei. The official addition of Huawei to this list has been delayed multiple times. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously in November to designate Huawei as a national security threat and voted to ban U.S. telecom groups from using FCC funds to purchase Huawei equipment. 

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In response to the FCC’s decision, Huawei said the ban was “based on selective information, innuendo, and mistaken assumptions,” and added that it believes the decision was “unlawful.” In December, the company announced it would sue the U.S. government over the FCC order. 

Tensions around Huawei have also been part of U.S.-China trade talks, an issue that Mnuchin addressed last week ahead of the signing of a “phase one” trade agreement between the two countries.

Mnuchin stressed during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that Huawei would not be used as a “chess piece” in negotiations and noted that the company was considered a “national security” issue and would be negotiated separately from economic talks.

“What I do think, and we have said this repeatedly across the administration: our national security issues are our primary concern,” Mnuchin said. “So, when it comes to our government networks, when it comes to sophisticated business networks, military networks and networks of all of our allies, we want to make sure that those networks are fully secure.”