Local planners in the UK gave the go-ahead for communications giant Huawei to build the high-end facility in Sawston, a small village near Cambridge, the home of the famous University.
The plans include around 50,000 square meters of space for research and development in the field of photonics – the study of lasers and fiber optics.
And there’s the problem on the international stage. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval of a plan to allow Huawei to build part of Britain’s 5G broadband infrastructure remains a real issue of disagreement between the British and the Americans.
The U.S. administration is reported to be furious that Huawei’s application to the local authority was even put in for consideration – let alone approved. Keith Krach the U.S. under-secretary of state for economic growth opposed the plans for the facility, labeling them an “expansion of the surveillance state.”
Trump has waged a long-term campaign against Huawei on what he alleges are security grounds. The U.S. Defense Department has published a report in which it claims the 20 top Chinese firms, including Huawei, are either owned or supported by the Chinese military.
South Cambridgeshire council’s planning chief, Tumi Hawkins, said of the reported U.S. anger at the plan: “There has been a lot of wider comment, but when we determine planning application, we can only take into account national and local planning policies.”
They focused on the 400 jobs the Huawei plan brings with it and the rebuilding of a largely derelict 500-acre site in the village.
But why is the U.S. interfering in British internal affairs? “The UK’s a key domino in the U.S. strategy to block Huawei, especially its roll-out of 5G,” says Simon Lacey, senior lecturer of the University of Adelaide. “The Trump Administration will do anything to poison matters further.”
Huawei has been operating in Britain for 20 years and currently employs 1,600 people. Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said the new site was a perfect location.
“The UK is home to a vibrant and open market, as well as some of the best talent the world has to offer.”
“Through close collaboration with research institutes, universities and local industry,” said Zhang, “we want to advance optical communications technology.”