Chinese telecoms firm 'a security risk'
23 October 2012
The government is "compromising" national security and "dealing with the devil" by having a close relationship with Chinese telecoms equipment firm Huawei, the former head of MoD Cyber Operations has warned.
Major General Jonathan Shaw, speaking to investigative news website Exaro, said that the government was deliberately compromising national security in dealing with Huawei as it needed the economic boost the wealthy firm has provided in recent years.
"The economy is in such a mess that the government feels that it has to compromise on security in favour of continued economic freedom," Shaw said. "So, it is dealing with the devil and I think that the government is very conscious of that now.
"Certainly there are enough people in the [intelligence] agencies who are saying that, but they are also aware of the economic cost of not dealing with Huawei.
"The concern over corporate espionage is a bit like global warming. It is not today's issue. But, by God, it is there."
The relationship between Huawei and British Telecom is currently being scrutinised by the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, it emerged recently.
"There is the very real fear that the extent of Huawei's current telecoms penetration could mean that in the long term we shall have lost so much intellectual property by the time we put our house in order that there will be no economy left to recover, " Shaw said.
Huawei was founded in 1987 by former People's Liberation Army officer Ren Zhengfei, and in recent months has been blocked from a major Australian national broadband contract on security grounds. In the USA, a House Intelligence Committee report said that Huawei, along with ZTE, "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence" and that it posed "a security threat to the United States and our systems".
Huawei also opened an "evaluation centre", operated with GCHQ, in Banbury in 2010.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "The evaluation centre obviously works very closely with UK government security specialists, and that allows us to satisfy ourselves that the equipment coming into the UK meets our standards."
A Huawei spokesman told Exaro: "We have been subject to UK government scrutiny and procedure since we opened our first office here in 2001. We have regular contact with the UK government and welcome all discussions and questions."