Britain’s defense secretary was just fired over Huawei. Here’s what’s going on.

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Publication Date: 
May 1, 2019

Gavin Williamson was just fired as Britain’s defense secretary after being accused of leaking information.

Last week, Britain’s National Security Council decided that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies would be allowed to play a limited role in building Britain’s 5G telecommunications network. Someone leaked this information to a British newspaper. According to the BBC, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Williamson that she had “compelling evidence” that he was responsible for the leak. Williamson has denied that he was the leaker.

This crisis in British politics reflects a broader set of global security problems: Telecommunications networks, which sound boring and technical, have become a major security issue.

There is a big fight happening over Huawei.

The leak was highly embarrassing to the British government because it revealed how controversial the Huawei decision was within the government. Britain — like other European jurisdictions — will have to upgrade its wireless communication network to 5G speeds. Huawei has played a substantial role in building the existing network, and it is widely regarded as the market leader. However, the United States wants to limit the reach of Huawei and has been engaged in a concerted diplomatic campaign to get its allies to boot Huawei out of their national telecommunications markets. This means that U.S. allies face a difficult choice: going with Huawei and incurring the displeasure of Washington or going with other providers and possibly paying much more, as well as encountering serious technical difficulties.

Read the full piece at The Washington Post