Theresa May lets Huawei build parts of 5G network 'despite Cabinet fears over national security'

Posted On: 
24th April 2019

Theresa May is to let Chinese telecoms giant Huawei build parts of Britain's new 5G network despite security warnings from ministers.

The United States, New Zealand and Australia have already barred Huawei company from supplying some elements of their own telecoms infrastructure.

The National Security Council on Tuesday reportedly agreed to let the company, which has been all-but banned from government networks in the United States, operate "non-core" parts of the mobile network.

But The Telegraph reports that a string of Cabinet ministers including Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox have all raised concerns about the move.

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Huawei has become one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world in recent years, but there are concerns among some Western governments that the firm has ties to the Chinese state.

The company has denied such links and pointed out that its technology is already used in the 4G network.

But a 2012 US congressional report said the firm had been "unwilling to explain its relationship with the Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party" and said "credible evidence exists that it fails to comply with US laws".

The United States, New Zealand and Australia have already barred the company from supplying some elements of their own telecoms infrastructure.

The apparent move to let Huawei supply 5G equipment for the UK has already been slammed by Tom Tugendhat, chair of Parliament's cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Tory MP said: "Allowing Huawei into the UK's 5G infrastructure would cause allies to doubt our ability to keep data secure and erode the trust essential to Five Eyes cooperation."

And he added: "There's a reason others have said no."

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said the security of Britain's telecoms network was of "paramount importance".

"As part of our plans to provide world class digital connectivity, including 5G, we have conducted a review of the supply chain to ensure a diverse and secure supply base, now and into the future," the department added.

"This is a thorough review into a complex area and will report with its conclusions in due course."

Labour's Shadow Digital Minister Liam Byrne, said: "Our new digital networks already lag well behind the world's best, yet the Government continue to dither over Huawei. We need clarity on the risks and costs of a decision either way and we need it now.

"We're at a fork in the road. If the Government thinks Huawei threatens our security, it needs to explain why and what it plans to do about it.

"If it bans Huawei, telecoms companies are clear that 5G will be delayed for years and cost billions of pounds more. If that's the Government's choice then we need immediate clarity on what their Plan B is to give us the 5G network our future prosperity demands."

Downing Street said: "We don't comment on NSC discussions."