The government has defended deals signed by Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei with UK companies, claiming investment in the nation is vital and that national security was never at risk.
A damning report from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said the nation had been too blasé over the way Huawei had become involved in critical national infrastructure (CNI) deployments in the UK, such as a deal with BT in 2003.
In response, chancellor George Osborne said that allowing Chinese vendors to enter the UK market is vital for national prosperity.
“Inward investment is critical to generating UK jobs and growth. It is a personal priority of mine to increase trade links between the UK and China and I cannot emphasise enough that the UK is open to Chinese investment,” he said.
The Cabinet Office also issued a statement in response to the ISC report. It said while it acknowledges its dealing with CNI contract was somewhat lax in the past, it has now established much more rigorous criteria for vetting firms.
“We accept that the processes of 2005 needed improving and updating; this is what we have done,” it said. “We now have governance structures and working practices in place, which address these risks, including supply chain threats to the telecommunications infrastructure specifically, and escalation of decision-making processes as necessary.”
Huawei hit back too, citing elements of the report where the ISC said UK security had not been at risk specifically from Huawei, and again touted its efforts towards protecting IT systems.
“As a world-leading ICT solutions provider, Huawei fully understands the risk of cyber security and the need to protect privacy, while continuing to deliver the benefits and convenience that modern communication technology brings to our daily lives,” it said.
“Huawei is willing to work with all governments in a completely open and transparent manner to jointly reduce the risk.”
Question marks over Huawei have gathered over the last year or so as US security officials raise concerns over the close links between the firm and the Chinese government, effectively blockading the firm from selling to the US market.
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