Theresa May has given the go-ahead to Chinese telecoms company, Huawei, to help build the UK’s new 5G network, despite fears that its equipment poses a threat to national security.
The UK’s National Security Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May, agreed on Tuesday (April.23rd) to allow the company limited access to help build parts of antennas and other non-critical infrastructure.
Ministers including Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, all raised concerns about the decision, according to the Telegraph.
The decision comes after a number of senior security figures voiced their concerns about using equipment from Chinese firm Huawei.
UK’s 5G network
In December, the head of MI6, Alex Younger, warned that Britain needs to decide how “comfortable” it is with allowing the firm to build its 5G network, while the GCHQ director, Jeremy Flemming said that the UK has had to “understand the opportunities and threats” that Huawei offers.
Some critics have said that Huawei’s technology is linked to China’s government and its equipment could contain “backdoors” in its devices to help spy on or disable Britain’s communication network.
Last month a government-led committee was set up to examine and assess Huawei equipment said it had found “significant technological issues” with its engineering processes.
This decision to involve Huawei in the development of the UK’s 5G network is likely to further strain relations with the US after it banned Huawei from its government networks.
The US also urged other members of the Five Eyes Alliance – the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – to exclude Huawei.
But despite their efforts, the UK has so far resisted pressure from the US, with intelligence chief arguing they have the systems in place to monitor any threats.
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat tweeted: “Allowing Huawei into the UK’s 5G infrastructure would cause allies to doubt our ability to keep data secure and erode the trust essential to #FiveEyes cooperation.
“There’s a reason others have said no.”
Huawei has repeatedly dismissed allegations of its link to the Chinese government, but critics question how independent any large Chinese organisation can be, especially because they are legally obliged to cooperate with intelligence authorities.
A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Spokeswoman said the security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks was of “paramount importance”.
“As part of our plans to provide world class digital connectivity, including 5G, we have conducted a review of the supply chain to ensure a diverse and secure supply base, now and into the future,” the spokeswoman said.
“This is a thorough review into a complex area and will report with its conclusions in due course.”