Today's screeching U-turn on allowing #Huawei access to our 5G architecture is an important moment for “Global Britain”, this Govt’s attempt to carve out a relationship with different parts of the world on terms independent of either Washington or Brussels. (Thread 1/7)
There are two clear reasons for the #Huawei U-turn. The first is US economic & political power. American sanctions on chip technology made our openness towards Huawei unsustainable given our political commitment to the US alliance & the reality of global supply chains. 2/7
The second reason for the #Huawei U-turn was Tory rebellion. 'Global Britain' involves a mixed position towards China: openness on economic issues, hawkishness on security issues. Neither Beijing nor Washington allows the world to be seen like this. Tory backbenchers agreed. 3/7
The #Huawei U-turn also shows how technology destroys the integrity of boundaries between economic & security issues. Pursuing different approaches to each is impossible with regard to technologies that merge the two. And treating them as separate was bordering on naive. 4/7
The whole #Huawei saga is an object lesson in the limits of de facto independence vs de jure independence in foreign policy. Our fundamental political commitments plus the realities of economic interconnectedness limit our options hugely. And revisiting these is really hard. 5/7
When I worked for Gordon Brown, Chinese PM Wen (in a rare unscripted moment) asked him on a visit to Beijing if he was pro-American or pro-European. Gordon replied that he saw the UK bridging the two. Wen said the future was continental & that the UK would have to pick one. 6/7
Global Britain is based on a pick-&-mix approach to commercial, security, political & cultural alignments around the world. Post-Brexit, I doubt that approach will afford us any kind of genuine independence. Rather than pick-&-mix, will we keep getting told just what to pick? 7/7
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