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The UK Government has hinted that they may make a U-turn on their controversial decision to grant Chinese tech firm Huawei access to UK 5G mobile networks. The move had intially sparked fear among those like China Research Group member and Tory MP Neil O’Brien, who warned that it could pose a security risk. Mr O’Brien told Times Radio that facilitating a “dominant” Huawei could allow the Chinese Government to use the equipment to spy.
He said: “Certainly we know in countries like Rwanda and Zambia, Huawei employees helped to track down members of the opposition using their cell phone data, and intercepted their communications.
“So in some countries it’s acting in a very aggressive way like part of the security services.
“What it would do in the UK context, we don’t know.
“I think we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the abilities of the Chinese Government.”
Mr O’Brien continued: “It’s incredibly able to conduct industrial espionage and find out things it wants.
“It’s managed to steal industrial secrets across the board, even in very sensitive areas like defence technology.
“The risk of going with an even more dominant Huawei is that you end up with it just increasingly dominating a whole range of high technology fields.
“So by the time you get to 6G you have fewer and fewer choices.”
The MP added: “At the moment you can still perfectly reasonably use trustworthy Scandinavian companies like Nokia or Ericsson to provide your 5G.
“If you just keep enabling the growth of Huawei, which is a part of the Chinese state, to become even more dominant then you give yourself fewer and fewer options in the future.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had hinted at the U-turn at a special defence select committee scrutinising Huawei.
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An emergency review that was ordered last month is “pretty much finished” in terms of determining the technical impact.
In January, on the advice of the UK’s intelligence agencies, Boris Johnson concluded that it would be safe to deploy Huawei in future 5G networks.
This was as long as the Chinese company was declared a “high-risk vendor” and therefore subject to a 35 percent cap on its share of the market.
However the decision was heavily criticised by Donald Trump’s administration and a growing group of rebel Conservatives.
The US Government has now imposed new restrictions on the tech giant, severely limiting its ability to use American technology to design and manufacture semiconductors produced for it abroad.
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