Huawei, which has been facing a global retaliation after US banned the company and asked its allies to follow suit, can now breathe a sigh of relief. The UK government has decided that it can mitigate the risks arising from using telecom equipment made by the Chinese company. The telecommunications division of Huawei is one of the leaders in 5G networks, and the US has already banned leading telecom players from using its equipment and has even banned the company from selling its smartphones subsidized via telecom operators.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has concluded that it can mitigate risks arising from using Huawei’s telecom gear to build the nation’s 5G network. The decision is expected to “carry great weight” with European leaders, who are also evaluating whether to drop Huawei as vendor for 5G network equipments. Huawei has been accused by the United States of cyber espionage and building backdoor for the Chinese government. However, the company founder Ren Zhengfei has refuted those claims and has acknowledged that his ties with the Communist Party of China and said the company does not spy for the government.
“Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their public and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British,” the source told the newspaper.
The chief of Britain’s foreign intelligence service told early this month that the country should avoid relying on a monopoly provider of telecom equipment while building new 5G networks. But, added that there were no easy answers to concerns around Huawei raised by the US government. The relief for Huawei comes despite ongoing tensions with governments around the world.
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Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei and daughter of Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December and faces possible extradition to the United States. She has been charged with wire fraud violating US sanctions on Iran. While NCSC did not directly comment, it has reiterated its earlier concerns. “As was made clear in July’s HCSEC (Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre) oversight board, the NCSC has concerns around Huawei’s engineering and security capabilities. We have set out the improvements we expect the company to make. The latest Annual HCSEC report will be published in the near future.”