US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praises UK action over China following 'candid talks' with Johnson and Raab

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Romilly Weeks

The government did the "right thing" in its decision to ban new Huawei products from the UK's 5G network infrastructure from December 31 this year, the US secretary of state has said.

Mike Pompeo welcomed the UK’s response over China as he condemned Beijing’s actions on a visit to London as foreign secretary Dominic Raab denied the government had been pushed into a tougher position by the US into its China position.

The secretary of state said the government's U-turn on allowing the Chinese tech giant to play a role in the UK’s 5G network was a "sovereign decision", made in the "best interests of people of the United Kingdom" and "not because the United States said it was OK".

Mr Pompeo held talks with senior backbench Tories including leading China hawk Sir Iain Duncan Smith before his meetings with ministers.

But Mr Raab insisted: “I don’t think there is any question of strong-arming – Mike and I always have constructive discussions."

At a brief press conference in Lancaster House following talks with Mr Raab, Mr Pompeo said “we have seen Hong Kong’s freedoms crushed” and “watched the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) bully its neighbours”.

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the British government for its principled response to these challenges.”

Those measures included banning Huawei, allowing British National (Overseas) passport holders to come to the UK, suspending the extradition treaty and extending an arms embargo on China to cover Hong Kong.

Mr Pompeo said: “We support those sovereign choices, we think ‘well done’.”

The US secretary of state accused China of being "disgraceful over Covid".

Mike Pompeo and Dominic Raab taking questions at Lancaster House during the US secretary of state's UK visit. Credit: PA

He claimed the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) had exported the virus to "further their own aims" and said he wanted countries including the UK to form a coalition to persuade China to change course.

Mr Pompeo also attacked China over its foreign policy stance.

“You can’t go make claims for maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to," he said.

"You can’t threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas.

"You can’t engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organization," he said.

Last month, 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, were killed in a "violent face-off" with Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, an area China has claimed sovereignty over.

Mr Pompeo also highlighted the CCP directing state-owned firms to “steal” intellectual property from US firms.

The news conference followed “candid” talks with Mr Johnson in the Rose Garden of No.10.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and Mr Pompeo, along with the foreign secretary had discussed “shared global security and foreign policy issues, including China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang” where there are concerns about the abuse of the Uighur Muslims.

They also discussed the importance of the Five Eyes alliance - the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - taking an “ambitious approach to working together on the technologies of the future”, something apparently aimed at ending the reliance on Chinese technology from firms such as Huawei.

Downing Street said they also discussed a possible US-UK trade deal.

Mr Pompeo said it was a “constructive” visit and “our two countries’ long-standing, strong bilateral relationship has laid the foundation for the candid discussion on issues ranging from 5G telecommunication to our negotiations for a US-UK free trade agreement”.

United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Rose Garden at No.10 Credit: PA

However, China has warned Britain will “bear the consequences” of its actions over Huawei.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London said in a statement Beijing had expressed its concerns over the UK interfering in Hong Kong matters “which are internal affairs of China”.

Downing Street rejected China’s condemnation of the UK’s actions over the extradition treaty and the extension of an arms embargo to cover Hong Kong.

It was a “reasonable and proportionate response to China’s failure to live up to its international obligations with respect to Hong Kong”, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said: “Now the UK side has gone even further down the wrong road in disregard of China’s solemn position and repeated representations.

“It once again contravened international law and the basic norms governing international relations and blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs in an attempt to disrupt the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong SAR and undermine the city’s prosperity and stability.

“China urges the UK side to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, in any form.

“The UK will bear the consequences if it insists on going down the wrong road.”