Britain will allow China's Huawei Technologies Co. to help build the country's next-generation cellular network, dealing a blow to a U.S. campaign to launch a worldwide boycott of the telecom equipment giant.
The British government said Tuesday it would permit Huawei to build less critical parts of the country's new high-speed 5G wireless network.
The U.S. has campaigned against Huawei for more than a year, noting concerns about national security and the Chinese firm's relations with the country's Communist Party. On Tuesday, the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump discussed "critical regional and bilateral issues, including telecommunications security," during a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"The United States is disappointed by the U.K.'s decision," said a senior Trump administration official Tuesday. "There is no safe option for untrusted vendors to control any part of a 5G network."
The U.S. official said the U.S. is willing to work with Britain to exclude "untrusted vendor components from 5G networks."
Without mentioning any companies, Britain said it would exclude "high-risk" companies from providing "core" components of the new network. It also said it would permit high-risk suppliers to supply up to 35-percent of the new network's less risky parts of its infrastructure.
Britain's announcement comes a day before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet in London with Johnson. The announcement puts Johnson in an awkward position, as he needs the Trump administration to quickly reach a trade agreement after Brexit.
The 5G rollout is particularly critical for Britain, as it leaves the European Union with hopes of positioning its economy as a beneficiary of technological innovation.
U.S. officials have also voiced frustration with decisions by some European nations to grant Huawei some access in the rollout of their 5G network.
Under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the U.S. defense secretary should brief Congressional defense committees by March 15 on the implementation of plans for fifth-generation information and communications technologies, including steps to work with U.S. allies and partners to protect critical networks and supply chains.
VOA's Steve Herman contributed to this report.