Bri­tain will pay a high price for ‘cosy­ing up’ to China’s Huawei

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Hasan Chowd­hury

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.

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