- The UK parliament’s defence committee published a report on Huawei and 5G on Thursday which concluded there is “clear evidence of collusion” between Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party.
- It did not offer evidence of Huawei spying for China, but said there were structural links between the company and the Chinese government, such as generous subsidies.
- Huawei said the report was “built on opinion rather than fact.”
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The British parliament’s defence committee said in a report on Thursday that it had found “clear evidence of collusion” between telecoms giant Huawei and the Chinese state, and Britain may need to remove all Huawei equipment earlier than planned.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July ordered Huawei equipment to be purged from the nascent 5G network by the end of 2027. US President Donald Trump claimed credit for the British decision.
The US has consistently lobbied allies including the UK to freeze out Huawei from their 5G networks, alleging the company acts a proxy for Chinese state espionage — which Huawei denies.
“The West must urgently unite to advance a counterweight to China’s tech dominance,” Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defence committee, said. “We must not surrender our national security for the sake of short-term technological development.”
The Committee did not go into detail about the exact nature of the ties but said it had seen clear evidence of Huawei collusion with “the Chinese Communist Party apparatus.”
The committee’s report did not conclude there was any technical evidence of Huawei conducting cyber-espionage on behalf of the Chinese government. It focused instead on the structural links between Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party, including fact it has been granted generous subsidies.
“It is clear that Huawei is strongly linked to the Chinese state and the Chinese Communist Party, despite its statements to the contrary. This is evidenced by its ownership model and the subsidies it has received. Additionally, Huawei’s apparent willingness to support China’s intelligence agencies and the 2017 National Intelligence Law are further cause for concern,” the report says.
Huawei said the report lacked credibility.
“It is built on opinion rather than fact. We’re sure people will see through these groundless accusations of collusion and remember instead what Huawei has delivered for Britain over the past 20 years,” a Huawei spokesman said.
The defence committee said it supported Johnson’s decision to eventually purge Huawei from Britain’s 5G but noted that “developments could necessitate this date being moved forward, potentially to 2025 which could be considered economically feasible.”
The UK announced in May it would be banning purchasing of new Huawei 5G telecoms equipment from 2021, and it would remove existing Huawei 5G kit from its networks by 2027. This announcement came after the US imposed fresh sanctions on the firm in May, limiting its ability to buy chip-making components from American companies.
The defence committee’s report said the strain on geopolitical relations with the US alone would have been enough to justify booting Huawei out of Britain’s 5G network.
“Whilst the Government decision was ultimately taken because of the technical considerations resulting from the US sanctions the Government should have considered the potential damage to key alliances enough of a risk to begin to
remove Huawei from the UK’s 5G network before the US sanctions were imposed,” the report says.
The report also warned against “ill-informed anti-China hysteria” and said the committee “recognises the mutual benefits of Chinese involvement in our economy.”