A committee of MPs has made a stunning allegation against Chinese networking giant Huawei Technologies in a new report.
The House of Commons defence committee in its 91 page report looking at ‘the security of 5G’, said that its “inquiry found that there is clear evidence of collusion between Huawei and the Chinese state, which supports the decision to remove them from the UK’s networks.”
And it wants the British government to speed up the removal of Huawei equipment from British networks, and also encourage the development of industrial capability in the UK, as well as bring in other tech vendors.
The British government in July officially ordered British mobile operators to remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks within seven years (by 2027).
It also banned British operators from buying Huawei equipment from the end of this year.
But the committee wants the government to order the removal of all Huawei kit by 2025.
“The UK’s closest allies within Five Eyes originally embarked on a policy at odds with the UK’s and the Government should have considered the potential damage to key alliances,” said the MPs. “The Committee conclude that this alone is enough of a concern to begin removing Huawei from the UK’s 5G network.”
Besides the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, the MPs want the government to support a proposal of a D10 alliance, made up of the world’s ten largest democracies, to provide alternatives to Chinese technology and to combat the technological dominance of authoritarian states.
“Our inquiry found that there is clear evidence of collusion between Huawei and the Chinese state, which supports the decision to remove them from the UK’s networks,” the committee said. “The designation of Huawei as a high-risk vendor by the UK Government is appropriate and completely justified with the correct steps being taken to remove them from the UK’s 5G.”
It said that it is currently satisfied that Huawei continues to be “sufficiently distanced from sensitive defence and national security sites.”
“The West must urgently unite to advance a counterweight to China’s tech dominance,” said chair of the defence committee, Tobias Ellwood MP. “We must not surrender our national security for the sake of short-term technological development. This is a false and wholly unnecessary trade off.”
“A new D10 alliance, that unites the world’s ten strongest democracies, would provide a viable alternative foundation to the technological might of authoritarian states, whose true motives are, at times, murky,” said Ellwood. “Democracies the world over are waking up to the dangers of new technology from overseas, that could inadvertently provide hostile states access to sensitive information through the backdoor.”
“The Government’s decision earlier this year was a step in the right direction,” he added. “However, current regulations are porous, and legislation lacks teeth, continuing to allow telecoms companies to prioritise profit over the public and the nations’ security.
“Thankfully, Huawei, and the risks that foreign technology pose to our national security, have garnered much-needed and long-overdue attention in recent months,” said Ellwood. “The Government must ensure that legislation is airtight, leaving no room for companies to slip through the cracks. Enacting the Telecoms Security Bill by the end of this year is imperative, as this will bring regulations up to date.”
Huawei responded and told the BBC “this report lacks credibility as it is built on opinion rather than fact.”
“We’re sure people will see through these accusations of collusion and remember instead what Huawei has delivered for Britain over the past 20 years,” a spokesman for the company reportedly said.
But there is no disguising this is yet another blow for the Chinese vendor, hoping to sell its equipment in other European countries.
Last week the UK’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC), which is an Huawei oversight board to oversee the use of foreign products, alleged the Chinese vendor had failed to adequately tackle previously flagged security flaws.
It should be noted that the House of Commons defence committee based its findings on the testimony of academics, cyber-security experts and telecom industry insiders, among others. These included some long-term critics of the company.
Hauwei’s executives did not testify before the defence committee, the BBC reported, although they did appear before a separate parliament committee in July.
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