By Benjamin Norton – Aug 24, 2022
The Donald Trump White House and CIA ran “black ops” to intimate Britain to cut ties with China’s tech giant Huawei, hurting the UK’s economic interests to advance Washington’s trade war on Beijing.
The Donald Trump administration led an intimidation campaign to force the United Kingdom to cut all ties with China’s tech giant Huawei.
British intelligence officials referred to the initiative as a CIA “black ops” mission aimed at undermining London’s independence.
This operation succeeding in forcing Britain to ban Huawei, hurting the UK’s own economic interests and delaying its development of 5G technological infrastructure in order to advance Washington’s trade war on Beijing.
These details were revealed in a report in major British newspaper The Times, titled “5G wars: the US plot to make Britain ditch Huawei.”
In May 2019, the Trump White House sent a delegation to London on what The Times referred to as a “policy-disruption mission,” seeking to pressure the UK to completely remove Huawei from its 5G infrastructure.
The British officials “were effectively shouted at by one of their guests for five hours,” the newspaper reported.
The US representative who yelled at them was Matthew Pottinger, a former Marines intelligence officer parachuted who served as the director on Asia for Trump’s National Security Council.
Pottinger, a diehard neoconservative and anti-China hawk, was “one of the most significant people in the entire US government,” according to Trump’s far-right chief strategist Steve Bannon. Pottinger oversaw the US trade war with China.
The UK government assured its US counterparts that it had only decided to use Huawei’s equipment because it was “significantly cheaper” than the technology of European firms.
Britain’s top intelligence agency GCHQ reviewed Huawei’s minimal role in 5G infrastructure development and concluded that it was not a threat, as it would have no access to sensitive networks and information.
But Washington completely ignored London’s objections.
GCHQ was confident it could work safely with the Chinese tech firm. An American official thought otherwise — and, in a Cabinet Office meeting, shouted about it for five hours
— The Times and The Sunday Times (@thetimes) August 21, 2022
A British intelligence officer quoted by The Times explained, “Pottinger just shouted and was entirely uninterested in the UK’s analysis. The message was, ‘We don’t want you to do this, you have no idea how evil China is.’ It was five hours of shouting.”
UK National Security Advisor Kim Darroch told the newspaper that the US delegation “didn’t really have any compelling technical arguments that undermined the GCHQ case,” adding that “the US case was really political, not technical.”
The CIA proceeded to run a “black ops” campaign to undermine Britain’s standing among its European neighbors.
The Times reported:
The CIA tried to discredit the UK’s position on Huawei in the eyes of its European allies. Officers from the agency’s Belgium station met their counterparts in the French, German, Italian and Norwegian intelligence services, among others, to express their concerns about the UK’s “misjudgment”. British intelligence officials were outraged by what they described as a “black ops” mission facilitated by the CIA — some even calling it a betrayal of friendship. Yet again, the special relationship between London and Washington had been strained and risked being permanently disrupted.
The US pressure campaign was ultimately successful in forcing all members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network to ban Huawei.
The newspaper wrote:
US intelligence agencies and White House officials had repeatedly lobbied all members of the Five Eyes to ban Huawei on national security grounds. While New Zealand had followed Australia and banned the Chinese telecoms company in November 2018, Canada was still considering its options, and would not announce its intention to ban Huawei until May this year. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo — a director of the CIA during the early days of the Trump administration — had declared in a thinly veiled warning to Britain in February 2019 that countries using Huawei equipment were a risk to the US. Staff from his office were also reminding their counterparts in Britain that they were risking their place in the Five Eyes should the UK decide to approve Huawei.
Benjamin Norton is the founder and editor of the independent news website Multipolarista, where he does original reporting in both English and Spanish. Benjamin has reported from numerous countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, and more. His journalistic work has been published in dozens of media outlets, and he has done interviews on Sky News, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, El Financiero Bloomberg, Al Mayadeen teleSUR, RT, TRT World, CGTN, Press TV, HispanTV, Sin Censura, and various TV channels in Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Benjamin writes a regular column for Al Mayadeen (in English and Spanish). He was formerly a reporter with the investigative journalism website The Grayzone, and previously produced the political podcast and video show Moderate Rebels. His personal website is BenNorton.com, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.