Decision comes as Cameron cosys up to China
Britain’s coalition government looks set to be on a collision course with all-party MPs after giving the thumbs up to Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, despite the firm being blocked by the US and Australia amid concerns over spying threats.
It’s emerged that a British government-led review has now ruled that Huawei poses no serious risk, but the fact its clearance comes as prime minister David Cameron is in China to whip up business will undoubtedly be seen as more than just coincidence. In recent years Huawei has itself attempted to counter suspicions by spending millions on a PR campaign.
Earlier this year a UK a parliamentary committee of MPs attacked the government’s failure to investigate the use of Huawei equipment in the UK national telecommunications network, raising questions about Huawei’s links to the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army and adding that it was “shocked” at how Whitehall officials failed to inform ministers about BT’s use of Huawei equipment in a £10 billion upgrade of the telecommunications network eight years ago.
The committee also pointed to what it described as a “disconnect between the UK’s inward investment policy and its national security policy.”
British chancellor George Osborne, who also recently toured China, has conversely welcomed Huawei’s investment in Britain. Brushing aside concerns that Huawei’s networking equipment could be used to spy on the west and the fact that its operations have been limited or banned in the US, Australia and India, he warmly endorsed plans by the firm to build a £125 million research and development centre in Britain, adding: “There are some Western governments that have blocked Huawei from making investments. Not Britain. Quite the opposite.”
Full details of the UK goverment’s seemingly volte-face towards Huawei, and the verdict of its National Security Council, have yet to be revealed.