The UK minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries has urged Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to continue investing in the UK, despite recent scrutiny and security concerns.
Speaking at Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London this week, Ed Vaizey made the UK’s position on its involvement with the company clear.
“I want to start by thanking Huawei, particularly for their continuing investment in the UK,” said Vaizey.
“Huawei opened their headquarters in Reading in June, they already have research and development premises in Ipswich, both of which are a welcome boost to the UK economy. But they also tell a wider story about the UK’s position as the perfect test bed for research and development in ICT and electronics in Europe.”
He added: “I hope where Huawei leads, others will follow. And I hope that Huawei will continue this level of investment. You are most welcome.”
Vaizey’s comments come after a recent Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report, which slammed Huawei's near 10-year relationship with BT. MPs at the time said that they were shocked that officials had chosen not to inform, let alone consult, ministers on BT's decision to purchase equipment from Huawei, which could pose a risk to the UK's critical national infrastructure.
Huawei has come under intense scrutiny in the west after the US made moves to block it from doing business following allegations that it has links to the People’s Liberation Army in China and concerns that ultimately any Chinese company is subject to the Chinese government.
However, the UK government has previously said that “boosting trade and investment is a key part of the government's plan for growth” and that it is “working hard to develop economic relationships with key trading partners, including China”.
One of the only ISC recommendations the government agreed with was that the National Security Adviser should conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the government's Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (the Cell), which was established in 2010 to protect the UK’s communication infrastructure and ensure the integrity of Huawei’s products.
This was largely because the Cell is currently run by Huawei, not GCHQ, the government's electronic spying and security centre.
Huawei’s executive vice president Eric Xu was also speaking at the company’s mobile broadband forum this week, where he took a cautious approach to the response of western governments to Huawei.
Xu said that “most countries and customers trust Huawei” and this was thanks to the reputation it had built up over the past 20 years. Xu added that “very few” have taken a negative position towards the company.
However, he finished by saying: “I hope that there will be a bright future for us, but we can’t be sure that there will be.”