Huawei Pushback Isn't Foundering, Top U.S. Defense Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- A top U.S. defense official pushed back against the notion that Trump administration efforts to dissuade allies from using Huawei Technologies Co. were foundering, while calling European reluctance to act against the Chinese equipment maker “a huge concern.”

Military-to-military discussions are ongoing and “there’s actually a huge dialogue going on about, what is the path forward and how do we work together,” Ellen Lord, under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said during an appearance before the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based policy group. “We’ve frankly seen a lot of our European allies leaning forward to work with us.”

The administration of President Donald Trump has been pushing its allies to bar Huawei equipment from telecommunications networks as a security threat. So far, not a single European country has banned Huawei, which says it poses no risk.

The U.K.’s spy chief has indicated that a ban on Huawei is unlikely, citing a lack of viable alternatives to upgrade British telecom networks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she doesn’t believe in excluding a company simply because it’s from a certain country.

Lord was asked about European assertions that governments can mitigate security risks without banning Huawei.

“That is a huge concern to us,” Lord said. “If our allies and partners go with a Huawei solution we need to reconsider how we share critical information with them.”

“We continue to talk to the U.K. as well as Germany,” Lord said.

Europe has sought to balance concerns about growing Chinese influence with a desire to increase business with the region’s second-biggest trading partner. With no ban in the works, Huawei is in the running for contracts to build 5G phone networks, the ultra-fast wireless technology Europe’s leaders hope will fuel the growth of a data-based economy.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.