Sir Mike Rake, former BT chairman and president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has joined the UK board of controversial Chinese tech giant Huawei.
The City stalwart has served as an adviser to Huawei since January 2019, helping the firm to fend off attacks from critics over national security concerns.
The government has granted Huawei a role in building 5G infrastructure in the UK, though it has banned the company from sensitive parts of the network and imposed a market share cap.
But Rake’s appointment comes amid renewed tensions over the decision, with a group of more than 30 rebel Tory MPs calling for a complete ban on the Chinese tech giant.
In an open letter published yesterday, Huawei’s UK boss Victor Zhang said the government would be doing Britain a “disservice” if it reneged on its current approach.
Zhang said the surge in data usage in the UK since the start of the coronavirus outbreak — and the pressure it had placed on providers — showed how many people in the country were “stuck in the digital slow lane”.
Rake, who worked with Huawei for the rollout of broadband, 3G and 4G during his time at BT, said the Covid-19 crisis had highlighted the importance of good telecoms infrastructure.
“We are all getting used to working and communicating in different ways in these difficult times and I am passionate about making sure everyone can get affordable, reliable and quick connections at home and at work. Huawei and its world leading technology is vital to that,” he said in a statement.
Rake will serve as a non-executive director alongside a string of other high-profile British business figures, including former BP boss Lord Browne, tech bigwig Sir Kenneth Olisa and WWF chair Sir Andrew Cahn.
Zhang said: “Sir Michael brings a wealth of relevant experience to our boardroom and I look forward to working with him as we enter the next phase of our partnership with Britain.
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