United Kingdom 'doesn't need to ban' Huawei 5G kit

Posted February 20, 2019

The report will include recommendations on how to respond to Chinese espionage risks from Huawei to 5G networks, according to a source cited by the FT.

Despite US pressure - and similar moves by New Zealand and Australia - the United Kingdom says that it has no plans to cut Huawei technology out of 5G networks.

Whatever risk Huawei's work on national 5G infrastructure may bring, it can be managed and mitigated, the UK's top security body has said.

One source told the Financial Times the NCSC findings, which are yet to be made public, would "carry great weight" among European leaders, as Huawei's future there is debated.

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The company faces outright bans from being involved in the rollout of 5G networks in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., with Canada and the United Kingdom still undecided on their approach.

What are the security concerns over Huawei?

Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, also a world leader in 5G technologies, has been accused by the US of conducting espionage with its high-speed telecommunications systems.

If Britain gives Huawei a cautious green light, it will allow Canada room to make an independent decision, said Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert who teaches at the University of Ottawa.

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December and faces possible extradition to the US.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims. The U.S. has accused her of fraud and violating worldwide sanctions against Iran, which she and Huawei have both denied.

Tension and speculation concerning Ottawa's coming decision on 5G have been heightened by the December arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Vancouver following a request from USA authorities and the subsequent detention of two Canadians by China on security grounds.

It should be pointed out that so far, GCHQ has found no evidence that Huawei has put backdoors or is otherwise in league with the Chinese state fuelling speculation that this has been largely caused by jingoism from the US. In turn, government security agencies of a communist country with global ambitions would prize such information.

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Britain's National Cyber Security Centre admitted last summer that it had concerns about the engineering and security of Huawei's networks.