Pompeo Attacks China and Warns Britain Over Huawei Security Risks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

LONDON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday made a blistering attack against China as he stepped up pressure on Britain, warning that American intelligence sharing could be risked by the involvement of a Chinese company in a new British telecommunications network.

Speaking in London, Mr. Pompeo argued that China posed such a range of economic and security threats that the world now faced “a new kind of challenge, an authoritarian regime that’s integrated economically into the West.”

“China steals intellectual property for military purposes,” he said. “It wants to dominate A.I., space technology, ballistic missiles and many other areas.”

The question on the table in Britain is whether the government should allow Huawei, a Chinese company considered a security risk by the United States, to help build some of the next-generation, 5G cellular network in Britain.

Discussions on that topic were the subject of a leak that last week prompted the firing of the British defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, who had opposed working with the Chinese firm.

Huawei denies that it is a security risk.

In a speech for the 40th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory, Mr. Pompeo asked whether the British leader who came to be known as the Iron Lady would have allowed China “to control the internet of the future.”

Mr. Pompeo argued that Chinese law allowed the government to demand access to data flowing through Huawei systems.

“Why would anyone grant such power to a regime that has already grossly violated cyberspace?” he asked. “What can Her Majesty’s government do to make sure sensitive technologies don’t become open doors for Beijing’s spymasters?”

He also issued a stark reminder to his British hosts that if security were compromised, it would restrict the ability of the United States to share sensitive intelligence information with the British, as it does extensively.