The United States has not reportedly presented the British with any fresh evidence about the risks of using Huawei equipment in its 5G networks.
It comes after high level delegation led by President Donald Trump’s deputy national security advisor, Matt Pottinger, arrived in the UK this week in a final bid to get the British to ban the use of Huawei altogether.
The delegation reportedly presented an dossier to British ministers, which they said featured new evidence of the security risks of relying on Huawei technology. And US officials told British ministers that allowing the Chinese firm access would be “nothing short of madness”.
Yet the US officials, who had flown in specially from the US, would not spell out what the “relatively recent information” that they had shared with their UK counterparts was, but it is understood to be of a technical nature.
But now the BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera has reported sources as saying that the dossier included material about Huawei’s alleged links to the Chinese state.
The dossier reportedly claimed for example that there were serving Chinese intelligence officials who worked for the company and that it received state subsidies through the People’s Liberation Army.
The most scrutinised section of the dossier was its technical section.
It apparently challenged the UK’s assessment that it could mitigate any risks by keeping Huawei out of the sensitive parts of the network known as its “core”.
But the BBC reported that some of the material the US supplied in its dossier was actually derived from the UK’s own evaluation centre, which tests Huawei products.
Huawei opened a UK Cyber Security Transparency Centre centre, in Banbury, way back 2010. That centre however was only given official clearance by the British government in late 2013.
Essentially these facilities designed to allow officials from governments, as well as different companies, to test Huawei’s source code, software and product solutions for any backdoors or other vulnerabilities.
“Overall, there was a feeling in London that Washington had failed to produce a smoking gun or anything substantially new,” the BBC reported.
But some continue to caution against the use of Huawei kit.
“The real question is not looking for a smoking gun but asking whether this is a loaded gun and whether you want to have that risk,” former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly said.
Australia banned the use of Huawei equipment in 2018, but the Chinese firm said that Australian fears were ‘ill-informed’ and its decision was “extremely disappointing.”
Into this British Prime Boris Johnston has yet to make his final decision. He has previously warned that Huawei could still be excluded over concern approval could “prejudice” the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing relationship.
“The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology,” the Prime Minister said in an interview earlier this week. “We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. Now if people oppose one brand or another then they have to tell us what’s the alternative.”
It remains to be seen what decision will be finally reached.
Do you know all about security? Try our quiz!
Silicon breaks down the noteworthy news announcements and innovations presented by AWS at this week's…