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The United States' European allies are no longer taking Trump's 'apoplectic' threats seriously

Business Insider 2020-02-12 18:42:00

  • Trump's repeated threats to the United States' European allies to fall into line with US policy on Huawei are failing.
  • The United Kingdom last month backed a deal with the Chinese telecoms company despite a furious call to prime minister Boris Johnson from the president.
  • Now the German government is also preparing to rule out a ban on Huawei.
  • Other European leaders are set to follow their lead and defy Trump after the president failed to follow-through on his threats to the UK.
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In recent months Trump has issued a series of threats to European allies which were designed to force them into following his administration's ban on the Chinese telecoms company Huawei.

However, the threats, which included a plan to withdraw from the US intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom, appear to have failed, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreeing a deal with Huawei anyway.

Trump reportedly reacted with rage to Johnson's decision and slammed down the phone on the prime minister in a call last month.

However, far from fearing a similar reaction from Trump, other European countries are now moving to take a very similar position to Johnson.

This week Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats backed a positions paper which ruled out an outright ban on Huawei.

Christian Democrat sources told Reuters that party leaders decided against backing an outright ban on the company because: "state actors with sufficient resources can infiltrate the network of any equipment maker."

The paper added that: "the use of strong cryptography and end-to-end encryption can secure confidentiality in communication and the exchange of data."

Other European leaders are also set to follow the UK's lead in backing Huawei, Politico reported last month.

The development has prompted former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich to label Trump's failure to persuade allies on Huawei as "the biggest strategic defeat for the United States since the early days of World War II."

"I think people have got to wake up and understand this is a huge failure of our government bureaucracies to respond to a challenge we've seen coming," he told the BBC.

Trump is failing to follow-through on his threats


Germany's move towards backing Huawei comes after Trump failed to follow-through on his threats to the UK.

Trump and his allies had warned the UK that the future of its intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be at risk if it took the "momentous decision" to allow the Chinese telecoms company a role in the UK's communications infrastructure.

A delegation of US government officials warned their counterparts in advance of Johnson's decision that "Donald Trump is watching closely."

However, speaking at an event in London after Johnson backed Huawei, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the so-called Five Eyes relationship would remain, despite Johnson's decision to do a deal with Huawei.

"That relationship is deep, it is strong, it will remain," he said, speaking alongside UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Pompeo said that while Chinese Communist Party remained "the central threat of our time," and the deal with the UK risked handing them a "front door" to Western communications, he said that the US would find a way to make the relationship work.

"I am very confident that our two nations will find a way to work together to resolve this difference," Pompeo told the event, hosted by the UK think-tank Policy Exchange.