Top Tory politicians trying to reverse the decision to allow tech giant Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G networks are carrying out a “witch hunt”, China’s ambassador to the UK has said.
Senior Conservatives, including four former Cabinet ministers, have written to Tory MPs urging them to reconsider the government’s decision on Huawei, instead calling for a total ban on the controversial Chinese tech giant.
But Liu Xiaoming today branded the Tory dissenters “totally wrong”.
“What they’re doing is a kind of a witch hunt,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. “Huawei is a private-owned company; nothing to do with the Chinese government. The only problem they have is they are a Chinese company.”
The letter, signed by Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, David Davis, Damian Green, Tobias Ellwood and Bob Seely, said MPs were “working to find a better solution”.
The government’s decision means that Huawei, which has been classed a “high-risk” vendor due to national security concerns, will be allowed to build non-sensitive parts of the telecoms network. It will also be subject to a 35 per cent cap on its market share.
But Liu said Huawei operated independently from the Chinese state, adding that it was a market leader in 5G.
“I think the reason why the prime minister decided to keep Huawei is he has a very ambitious plan for the UK — he wants to have 5G coverage in the UK by 2025 and Huawei can be a great help,” he said.
“I hope the prime minister stays with his decision because I think it’s in the interest of the UK.”
However, the ambassador slammed the market share cap, which he said was not in keeping with the UK’s principles of “free economy and free competition”.
Boris Johnson’s decision to give Huawei the green light enraged US President Donald Trump, who was reportedly “apoplectic” with rage during a phone call last week.
When asked about the American response, Liu said: “I will leave the prime minister to deal with President Trump.”
“I always say Britain can only be great when it has its own independent foreign policy,” he added.