Wednesday 4 March 2020 12:46 pm

US senators urge MPs to rethink Huawei 5G decision

A group of senior US senators has written to MPs urging them to rethink the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to help build its 5G networks.

Twenty senators, including both Democrats and Republicans, expressed “significant” concern with the decision, citing “significant security, privacy and economic threats”.

Read more: MPs urge Johnson to ditch Huawei deal

In January the government gave Huawei the green light to build non-sensitive parts of the network, though it has imposed a 35 per cent market share cap on the company.

The move is said to have angered US President Donald Trump, who has warned any cooperation with the Chinese tech firm could compromise intelligence sharing agreements.

In the letter, the senators reiterated concerns about Huawei’s cybersecurity flaws, as well as its alleged links to Beijing. Huawei has always denied allegations of wrongdoing.

“Through China’s patchwork of vague intelligence, national security and cybersecurity laws, Chinese companies are compelled to support and cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence-gathering authorities,” they wrote.

The senators acknowledged UK spooks’ efforts to mitigate the risks associated with Huawei, but insisted the measures would not work.

“It is our understanding that the security and privacy risks surrounding Huawei technology cannot be effectively mitigated because of the unique software dependencies of 5G.”

While the UK has banned Huawei from so-called core parts of the telecoms network, the US has long argued that there is no clear distinction between core and non-core in 5G technology.

The cross-party group called for the UK to devise a strategy to phase out Huawei and other high-risk vendors from national infrastructure and to further policies to invest in and bolster domestic telecoms supply chains.

They also urged MPs to push for greater information sharing on risks and threats between allies.

The letter came ahead of a parliamentary debate this morning, where a number of Conservative MPs hit back at the government over its decision on Huawei.

In a lengthy speech, former Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith said the move left the UK “utterly friendless” among its allies.

Read more: David Davis: Huawei deal is ‘worst intelligence decision since Cambridge Five’

“The establishment at the moment in the UK has found itself somehow locked to this Huawei process and we need to break them free,” he added. “It’s like getting somebody off the addiction to heroin, we need to put them into rehab.”

Tom Tugendhat, chair of the influential foreign affairs committee, also blasted the decision, warning it showed China was succeeding in its “game to divide its opponents”.