Tensions over China threaten U.S.-U.K. trade deal

The latest source of friction between the transatlantic allies is the recent approval for Chinese tech giant Huawei to construct a $500 million research and development center near the university city of Cambridge.

Chinese tech giant Huawei continues to drive a wedge between the U.S. and the U.K., this time over a $500 million research and development center near the world-renowned university city of Cambridge.

Planning permission was granted on Thursday for the construction of the 550-acre, semi-conductor design center on land Huawei acquired for $47 million in 2019.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth Keith Krach has raised concerns about the location of the facility. “They want to co-opt the researchers and talent from one of the most prestigious universities,” Krach told The Times. “They want to get their hands on the technology and [intellectual property] to take back to China,”

The vice president of Huawei, Victor Zhang, strongly disagreed. “Any suggestion that work at the Cambridge R&D center would be in contravention of the unjustified U.S. sanctions is simply irresponsible and not true,” Zhang said in the same article.

Anxiety over the U.K.’s reliance on Chinese technology grew after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at the beginning of this year that Huawei would become a major supplier for Britain’s new 5G network.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the U.K. … but also protect our security interests, and protect our key security partnerships with other security powers around the world,” Johnson told the Guardian.