MPs have urged the next Prime Minister to decide whether to include Chinese tech giant Huawei in future 5G networks as a matter of priority.
In a report published this morning, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said the matter is “damaging the UK’s international relationships”.
The US has previously urged its allies to block Huawei from national infrastructure, arguing the company’s links to Beijing mean it could be used as a vehicle for state-sponsored spying. Huawei has always denied the allegations.
But the report said regardless of whether a Chinese company might use its position within the future telecoms network to spy on Britain, the government needs to make a decision to avoid further damage to diplomatic relations.
It said Britain should not do anything to jeopardise the so-called Five Eyes intelligence sharing relationship which also includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US. “The value of the partnership cannot be overstated,” it said.
However, it continued, having a diversified telecoms network which includes Huawei would give the UK better cybersecurity capabilities.
There are only three potential 5G suppliers to the UK – Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. Cutting Huawei out would “increase over-dependence and reduce competition, resulting in less resilience and lower security standards,” it said.
ISC chairman Dominic Grieve said: “The debate over whether or not Huawei should be allowed to supply equipment to the UK 5G network has dragged on long enough and is damaging the UK’s international relationships.
“The new Prime Minister must take a decision as a matter of priority.”
Victor Zhang, Vice-President of Huawei, said: “We agree that diversity improves resilience in networks. We’ve been a part of UK networks for 18 years.”
“Our priority has only ever been to deliver world-leading technology to our customers.”