Debate over Huawei’s role in UK 5G marked by ‘disinformation’

14 Jan 2020

Image: PA Media

It is reported that Boris Johnson may decide in favour of using Huawei equipment in ‘non-core’ parts of the UK’s 5G network – but some officials remain concerned.

Washington has stepped-up efforts to try and prevent the UK government from backing Chinese technology firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK 5G communications network, it has been reported.

Senior US officials presented the UK government with information to persuade it not to allow Huawei to get a lucrative foothold in the UK market, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper said technical information was put forward in a meeting between US and British security officials on Monday (13 January).

Decision due later in January

The Financial Times said there were growing expectations that UK prime minister Boris Johnson would decide in favour of allowing the use of Huawei equipment in some “non-core” parts of the network, with a final decision due later in January.

It comes after Tory MP Bob Seely called for the Foreign Affairs Committee to open an immediate investigation into the Chinese technology maker’s suitability for use in Britain’s 5G network.

Seely said Huawei for “all intents and purposes is part of the Chinese state” and a deal with the tech giant would allow Beijing to access the UK’s network.

Seely, who sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last UK parliament, added that it is “an extraordinarily important issue” on which the government should be listening to the US and Australia.

Misunderstanding and disinformation

Seely told MPs during the Queen’s Speech debate that Huawei is “the subject of US investigation for fraud and commercial espionage”.

He continued: “Sadly I feel that the debate over Huawei is marked by dangerous levels of misunderstanding and sometimes disinformation. For example, Huawei argues it is a private firm – in no meaningful sense is that correct.

“Huawei, to all intents and purposes, is part of the Chinese state and allowing Huawei a role in the 5G network is effectively to allow China and its agencies access to our network, and to say otherwise is simply false.”

Foreign Office minister Andrew Stephenson said a final decision will be “taken in due course”, adding: “The government will consider the full range of risks when making this decision.”

– PA Media