The Huawei furore has taken another twist after the Chinese ambassador to the UK weighed in on the matter.
He urged the UK to ‘make decisions independently‘ and avoid any ‘discriminatory measures’ against firms involved in building 5G networks.
The comments come after Chancellor Philip Hammond said last Friday that the UK must get to the bottom of the leak of confidential discussions during a top-level security meeting about the role of Huawei.
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An internal investigation is reportedly underway in the heart of the British government after a decision last week by the secretive National Security Council about Huawei’s 5G participation was leaked to a newspaper.
The Daily Telegraph had reported that the UK’s National Security Council (NSC) had agreed on Tuesday to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the network such as antennas and other “non-core” infrastructure.
But Huawei is to banned from the “core” parts of the network.
There had been calls for an investigation following the leak, with some calling for criminal charges. And that now seems a very real possibility, after the BBC last week reported that the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, as telling MPs that it is possible there could be a criminal investigation of the leak.
And now the Chancellor has weighed in on the matter whilst he was in Beijing.
“My understanding from London (is) that an investigation has been announced into apparent leaks from the NSC meeting earlier this week,” Hammond was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“To my knowledge there has never been a leak from a National Security Council meeting before and therefore I think it is very important that we get to the bottom of what happened here,” he told Reuters.
Into this mix the Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, has said that the UK should not to discriminate against companies involved in developing the 5G network. He also urged Britain to resist pressure from other countries over whether it should work with Huawei.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Xiaoming reportedly defended Huawei as having a good track record on security and said Britain should “make decisions independently and in accordance with their national interests”.
“The last thing the world needs is the introduction of any sort of discriminatory measures towards companies involved in 5G network development,” Reuters quoted him as writing. “The last thing China expects from a truly open and fair ‘global Britain’ is a playing field that is not level.”
Xiaoming’s said security concerns about the development of 5G networks were understandable but could be managed.
“The risks should be taken seriously but risks must not be allowed to incite fear. They can be managed, provided countries and companies work together,” he said.
Xiaoming’s comments are unlikely to be welcomed in London after the events of the past week.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has previously warned allies that “America may not be able to operate in certain environments if there is Huawei technology adjacent to that”.