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MI5 Chief Downplays Huawei Impact on Intelligence Sharing With U.S.

By Ding Yi / Jan 14, 2020 05:38 PM / World

Britain’s spy chief has made comments interpreted as being in favor of Huawei being allowed to bid for work on the U.K.’s mobile 5G network. The comments come despite U.S. lobbying to convince its allies to exclude the Chinese tech giant from their 5G wireless networks.

In an interview with the Financial Times, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker expressed confidence that the U.K.’s intelligence-sharing cooperation with the U.S. would not be damaged if Britain used Huawei technology in its next-generation mobile network.

The official also said that security concerns alone should not always “dominate and dictate” a decision especially at a time when there were so few suppliers in the telecoms infrastructure market.

Parker’s rare intervention is being interpreted as a sign that the British government might give the green light to Huawei’s involvement in some non-critical parts of the country’s 5G network. Boris Johnson’s government is expected to make a final call on whether Britain will allow Huawei to play a role in its 5G network later this month.

The U.S. has warned that intelligence sharing could be jeopardized if Huawei technology is adopted by the U.K., and British government officials are still divided on the issue. During a visit to the U.K. on Monday, a U.S. delegation including officials from the National Security Agency claimed that allowing Huawei to enter Britain’s 5G market would be “nothing short of madness,” in a last-ditch attempt to persuade London to issue a ban. They also showed new evidence to their British counterparts indicating that using Huawei equipment would put future phone networks at risk.

Huawei has consistently denied U.S. accusations that it embeds “hidden backdoors” into its equipment that the Chinese government can use for espionage. The company is still on a U.S. trade blacklist imposed in May which bans it from buying components from American firms.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Adds More Self-Made Chips to Smartphones to Cut Reliance on U.S.


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