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The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford dodged questions as he tried to turn a BBC Radio 4 discussion onto Huawei. Today programme presenter Mishal Husain asked Mr Blackford: “You said yesterday that the Huawei decision was overdue and that we should not open up the central nervous system of our modern society to a company owned by the Chinese communist party. I wonder what you think of the Chinese state national oil company which has such a significant part of North Sea oil production, producing about 25 percent of UK oil. Is that something you’re comfortable with?”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Blackford said: “I think the issue with Huawei is the impact they can have on security in the UK because of the unique position that they have.”
Ms Husain interjected: “Are you comfortable with the extent of the Chinese presence in North Sea oil production?
“What we’re talking about with Huawei was the particular security risks that were there.
“It’s not just a position that the UK’s taken that we supported in this case, it’s a decision that many countries have taken over the course of the last few months.
“We welcome investment from Chinese companies but this was a particular issue that we needed to deal with.”
Twitter users were quick to react to Mr Blackford’s comments.
One wrote: “Ian Blackford squirms and dodges clear question from Mishal Husain about why he is keen to stop Huawei in UK and keen to hand over 25 percent of North Sea oil to Chinese communist control.”
Another added: “Caught you out. State Chinese company energy company is ok but private a communication from China isn’t!”
A third person said: “I’m confused by his concern about Hawaii’s involvement in UK telecommunications network.”
China has hit out at the Government’s decision to strip Huawei equipment from its 5G network, questioning whether the UK can provide a “fair” environment for business as tensions with Beijing deepened.
It comes as Boris Johnson on Tuesday ordered telecoms firms to strip equipment from the Chinese tech giant out of 5G networks by 2027.
The move, which will delay the deployment of 5G technology by up to three years and add billions to the cost, came after the UK’s experts warned that highly restrictive US sanctions meant the security of Huawei’s equipment could not be guaranteed.
Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, tweeted: “Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on Huawei.
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“It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.”
The reaction from China signals a reversal in relations since former prime minister David Cameron heralded a “golden era” between the two countries less than five years ago.
The decision, taken by the National Security Council (NSC), led to concerns being raised in the Commons about the possibility of retaliation from Beijing, but ministers insisted they would not be “cowed” by China.
Huawei said it was disappointed by the move and claimed decisions on its future in the UK had become politicised.
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