The British parliament’s defence committee said on Thursday that it had found clear evidence that telecommunications giant Huawei had colluded with the Chinese state and said 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 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”.
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.
When asked about the committee’s comments, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that some in the UK should think before they speak, and that the legitimate interests of Chinese companies were being damaged.
“The openness and fairness of the UK market, as well as the security of foreign investments there, is highly concerning,” she said, speaking at a daily news conference in Beijing on Friday.
Trump identifies China as the US’s main geopolitical rival, and has accused the Communist Party-ruled state of taking advantage over trade and not telling the truth over the novel coronavirus outbreak, which he calls the “China plague”.
Washington and its allies say Huawei technology could be used to spy for China. Huawei has repeatedly denied this, and says the US is simply jealous of its success.
British ministers say the rise to global dominance of Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former People’s Liberation Army engineer, has caught the West off guard.
The defence committee said it supported Johnson’s decision to eventually purge Huawei from Britain’s 5G network but noted that “developments could necessitate this date being moved forward, potentially to 2025” to be economically feasible. — Reported by Guy Faulconbridge and Jack Stubbs, with additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley, (c) 2020 Reuters