Britain will pay a high price for ‘cosying up’ to China’s Huawei
BRITAIN has installed so much telecoms equipment manufactured by Huawei in its essential infrastructure that the cost to strip it out would be “phenomenal”, a former GCHQ spy has warned amid growing concerns over its potential risks to security.
Cameron Colquhoun, a former intelligence officer at GCHQ and managing director at cyber security firm Neon Century Intelligence, said Britain’s willingness to “cosy up” to the Chinese company – with links to the country’s military – “astonished” officials in Washington who repeatedly warned of the security threat posed.
“I think for too long trade has trumped cyber [security] in this field and I think now we’re realising there’s costs as well,” said Mr Colquhoun.
Since at least 2005, Huawei has been involved in the UK following partnerships with BT and Openreach. EE struck a deal with Huawei in 2012 for the firm to be its sole supplier of LTE base stations and mobile network Three signed a deal with Huawei this summer to assist in a £2bn roll-out of next generation 5G services.
Earlier this week, EE owner BT moved to strip out Huawei equipment in its 3G and 4G mobile core, while Three plans to use Nokia instead of Huawei for its 5G core. Huawei remains in the more peripheral parts of their infrastructure and remains a “valued innovation partner” for BT.
Professor Paul Theron, a cyber-security adviser to Nato and the European Commission, said the UK’s lack of a critical manufacturing base means it will remain dependent on foreign suppliers for its telecoms equipment.
Huawei executives met senior officials at the GCHQ-run National Cyber Security Centre this week to address serious risks in its equipment, according to The Financial Times.
A NCSC spokesman said: “We have a regular dialogue with Huawei about the criteria expected of their products.”
Meanwhile China warned that Canada would face consequences if it did not immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer.