Huawei has urged the government to ignore “unsubstantiated allegations” of spying levelled by the US amid fresh speculation over the Chinese firm’s role in the UK’s 5G network.
Top US officials have reportedly warned their British counterparts that using Huawei’s equipment would be “nothing short of madness”.
During crunch meetings in London yesterday the security chiefs handed over a dossier of evidence about Huawei’s vulnerabilities in a last-ditch attempt to persuade Downing Street to ban the Chinese tech giant.
Speaking to the BBC this morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that his government would not compromise national security or the UK’s intelligence sharing agreements with allies.
However, he said the British public needed to have access to the best quality and said critics of Huawei had to come up with “alternatives”.
In a statement this afternoon Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said his company was “confident that the UK government will make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations”.
He cited comments made by MI5 chief Andrew Parker, who said he had “no reason to think” that the UK’s intelligence sharing agreement with the US would be impacted if it collaborated with Huawei.
Leaks from a national security meeting last year suggested Huawei could be allowed to participate in so-called non-core parts of the network, though the UK is yet to announce its final verdict on the issue. All four major telecoms providers have since launched their 5G networks using some Huawei equipment.
However, the intervention of US security officials has reignited debate about the Chinese company’s role in critical national infrastructure.
Tory MP Bob Seely yesterday urged the government to heed its allies’ warnings and exclude Huawei. “The blunt reality is that China is a cyber risk and will remain so for years,” he said.
A government spokesperson said a final decision on Huawei will be made “in due course”.