Gavin Williamson reveals security fears over Chinese tech giant role in UK 5G network
Gavin Williamson has voiced security fears about allowing Chinese tech giant Huawei to be involved in the development of the UK's 5G mobile network.
The Defence Secretary said he had "very deep concerns" after Australia, New Zealand and the US restricted the use of Huawei technology in their own 5G systems.
Britain has accused Chinese hackers of targeting commercial secrets, while the head of MI6 has raised the alarm about Chinese tech. But Huawei denies any links to the Chinese state.
Mr Williamson said China had been acting in a "malign" way and noted that the UK will have to mull whether the firm should be allowed to help run the new high speed internet network.
“I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It’s something we’d have to look at very closely,” Mr Williamson said in comments reported by The Times during a visit to Ukraine.
He added: “We’ve got to look at what partners such as Australia and the US are doing in order to ensure that they have the maximum security of that 5G network and we’ve got to recognise the fact, as has been recently exposed, that the Chinese states does sometimes act in a malign way.”
His intervention follows a warning from MI6 Chief Alex Younger, who said Britain needed to decide how comfortable it was allowing Chinese ownership of key technologies and platforms.
UK telecoms firm BT has already begun removing Huawei technology from its 3G and 4G networks and said none will be used in the "core" of its 5G service.
Meanwhile, Canadian officials have been locked in a stand-off with China after arresting Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, for allegedly violating sanctions placed on Iran.
The firm, which was set up by a former People’s Liberation Army soldier, said it has “never been asked by any government to build any backdoors or interrupt any networks, and we would never tolerate such behaviour by any of our staff”.
Earlier this month, two Chinese men accused of hacking into Western companies and government agencies were arrested by US officials, who accused China of cyber-espionage.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the hacking was "one of the most significant and widespread cyber intrusions against the UK and allies uncovered to date".
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe