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US senators ask UK to reconsider use of Huawei gear

Bipartisan group cites "significant" threats to security and privacy posed by the China telecom giant.

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The US government wants Britain to exclude Huawei equipment from its 5G network due to security and privacy concerns.

Arne Dedert/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of US senators is urging UK lawmakers to reconsider their government's decision to allow equipment from China's Huawei to be used on its 5G network. In a letter sent to the House of Commons on Tuesday, 20 Republican and Democratic senators voiced the latest US opposition to the plan.

"Given the significant security, privacy, and economic threats posed by Huawei, we strongly urge the United Kingdom to revisit its recent decision, take steps to mitigate the risks of Huawei, and work in close partnership with the US on such efforts going forward," the senators said in the letter.

Among senators signing the letter were Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and Senate minority leader; Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; and Mark Warner,  a Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives sent a similar letter in January.

Huawei is the world's second-largest phone manufacturer by volume, but it has struggled to make a dent in the US. This is partly because of concerns expressed by the government, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, the Federal Communications Commission and House Intelligence Committee. The US has long alleged that Huawei maintains a tight relationship with the Chinese government, creating fear that equipment from these manufacturers could be used to spy on other countries and companies.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government decided in January to give the controversial Chinese telecom equipment maker access to "non-contentious" parts of the UK's next-generation wireless infrastructure. That move ran contrary to the position of US President Donald Trump, who banned Huawei because of its alleged links to the Chinese government.

A Huawei representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.