LONDON (Reuters) – British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said he had “grave concerns” about Chinese company Huawei <HWT.UL> providing technology for Britain’s planned 5G telecoms networks, the Times newspaper reported on Thursday.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is facing intense scrutiny in the West over its ties to the Chinese government and concerns its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. The company has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Williamson said a closer examination of security threats was needed before Huawei could be allowed to participate in the upgrade of Britain’s mobile network, becoming the first senior British minister to have aired such concerns, the Times said.
“I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It’s something we’d have to look at very closely,” Williamson was quoted by the paper as saying.
“We’ve got to look at what partners such as Australia and the U.S. are doing in order to ensure that they have the maximum security of that 5G network and we’ve got to recognise the fact, as has been recently exposed, that the Chinese state does sometimes act in a malign way.”
The United States has been taking action to cut Huawei out of the U.S. market while in August Australia banned it from supplying equipment for its 5G network.
The chief of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service Alex Younger said earlier this month that 5G reliance on Chinese technology was something Britain needed to discuss, though a bigger issue was the likely Chinese future dominance of emerging technologies.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)