Esper to allies: Picking Huawei risks intel and security ties with the US

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MUNICH ― U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday called out China as America's main adversary and warned allies that letting the Chinese firm Huawei build its next-generation, or 5G, network risks their security cooperation and information sharing arrangements with the U.S. "Reliance on Chinese 5G vendors, for example, could render our partners' critical systems vulnerable to disruption, manipulation and espionage," Esper said in a speech at the high-level Munich Security Conference. "It could also jeopardize our communication and intelligence sharing capabilities, and by extension, our alliances." Adopting Huawei's equipment on allies' 5G networks, Esper said, "could inject serious risk into our defense cooperation." It was a tough statement partially at odds with other U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who offered assurances last week that U.S.-U.K. intelligence sharing remained strong despite Britain's decision to include Huawei in some parts of its nascent 5G network. A day earlier, the White House's point person for international telecommunications policy, Robert Blair, told reporters: "There will be no erosion in our overall intelligence sharing."