America’s global campaign to stop its closest allies from using the Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s equipment, in the next generation of wireless networks has largely failed. Foreign leaders are publicly rebuffing the United States argument that the firm poses an unmanageable security threat.
Britain has already called the Trump administration’s bluff. It is betting that officials would not execute their threat to cut off intelligence sharing with any country that used Huawei equipment in its network. Britain appears to be paying no price for its decision to let Huawei into limited parts of its network, apart from an angry phone call between President Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Germany now appears ready to follow a similar path, despite an endless stream of cajoling and threats by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other U.S. officials at a global security conference in Munich last weekend.
In private conversations and public speeches, Mr. Esper and Mr. Pompeo continued to hammer home the dangers of letting a Chinese firm into networks that control critical communications. They said it would give the Chinese government the ability to spy on those networks or turn off those network in times of conflict.
“If countries choose to go the Huawei route,” Mr. Esper told reporters on Saturday, “it could well jeopardize all the information sharing and intelligence sharing we have been talking about, and that could undermine the alliance, or at least our relationship with that country.”