The secret spy dinner behind coordinated assault on Huawei

Five-nation intelligence-gathering bloc steps up campaign to limit China’s reach

The arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou by Canadian authorities produced attention-grabbing headlines in recent weeks, but the police action is just one part of a coordinated effort to target the Chinese telecommunications giant.

An account in The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday describes how intelligence chiefs from the Five Eyes nations – the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – hatched a plan to push back on Huawei’s global ambitions.

The debate among the spy chiefs during a dinner in Nova Scotia on July 17 centered on one question, the Herald said: “Should the agencies go public with their concerns about China?”

While not all agreed to speak publicly on the issue, after that meeting, a campaign to block Huawei from supplying equipment for fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks has gained steam.

The UK’s largest mobile network provider announced it would shed Chinese-made gear just days after Meng’s arrest. The US, Australia and New Zealand have already said they will not use Huawei equipment for next-generation mobile networks.

While Ottawa has yet to ban Huawei from 5G networks, Canada’s top intelligence official publicly warned of the dangers of not doing so on the same week that Meng was arrested. The Herald said that “a formal ban on Huawei and ZTE from Ottawa is expected within weeks.”

“A new Great Game was afoot and the West had been slow to act,” went the narrative voiced at the gathering in Nova Scotia. “But it is acting now.”

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