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Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson performed a U-turn as his Government announced that Huawei products will be banned from the UK and all products currently existing will be removed from Britain’s infrastructure in the next few years. Resisting heavy pressure from US President Donald Trump, as well as from his own MPs, in January, Mr Johnson had controversially allowed the Chinese tech firm to be involved with the UK’s 5G network, which is in development. However, there were huge security concerns over Huawei’s links to the Chinese state, with critics claiming the firm’s involvement in UK infrastructure would compromise Britain’s ability to protect its own data.
Huawei has vehemently denied allegations of any ties to the Chinese state and says it abides by the laws of every country in which it operates.
Mr Johnson admitted the firm was a “high risk vendor” but allowed it to have some access to the UK’s 5G network after being told by the UK’s security agencies that they could manage the risk posed by Huawei.
However, now, he finds himself revisiting that decision.
A key reason could be that the Trump administration has continued what one UK official calls a campaign of “unrelenting pressure” on the company.
US officials have claimed China could use the firm as a gateway to “spy, steal or attack” the UK.
Moreover, attitudes to China have hardened in the last six months, with the coronavirus crisis – and Beijing’s handling of it – increasing concerns about dependencies on the communist country.
While the U-turn will be welcomed by many Huawei critics in Britain, LBC radio presenter Maajid Nawaz has recently suggested it might be too late, as the UK has already been greatly influenced by the Communist Party of China (CPP).
Mr Nawaz wrote on Twitter: “It is abundantly clear to me that the CCP has been using tech business and all other relations with us such as journalism as an opportunity to spy, steal our IP, plunder our talent and corrupt our political and moral culture.
“Could this explain why we in the UK allowed the CCP to walk all over us. Were we compromised?
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“Or was our corporate greed and disdain for our children’s future that strong? Either way, large parts of our political and cultural establishment appear to have been captured by CCP designs.”
Mr Nawaz named former senior UK political figures who are “now involved in the Huawei contract with the CCP”.
Lord Browne, who has today announced that he will step down early as the UK chairman of Huawei Technologies, served as the Government’s Lead Non -Executive Director from 2010 until 2014.
Sir Andrew Cahn, a board member of Huawei UK, was in charge of UK Trade & Investment under Prime Minister David Cameron.
John Suffolk, Huawei’s Senior Vice President and Global Cyber Security and Privacy Officer, also served under Mr Cameron as his Chief Information Officer.
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Mr Nawaz also cited a recent article by The Times, which branded George Osborne as “the latest figure to be embroiled in claims that British elites were groomed by a pro-China lobby group”.
Mr Osborne, who oversaw a “golden era” of relations with China while Chancellor of the Exchequer in which billions of pounds’ worth of deals were agreed, was a guest of honour alongside a Huawei executive at a banquet held by the 48 Group Club in 2017.
The club took down its website last week after a book describing alleged Chinese influence networks was published.
At the event to celebrate Chinese New Year in 2017, Mr Osborne gave a speech in which he praised Huawei and made special mention of the work they were doing in the UK on 5G.
Sir Andrew Cahn introduced Mr Osborne on stage and described him as the “godfather” of China’s relations with the UK.
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