Huawei hits out at ‘groundless’ criticism amid calls for Chinese firm to be stripped of 5G role in UK

‘Disrupting our involvement ... would do Britain a disservice,’ chief says

Tom Embury-Dennis
Monday 13 April 2020 11:26
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Government wins vote over plans to allow Huawei to be used in the UK's 5G mobile network

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has hit out at “groundless” criticism of its involvement in the UK’s rollout of 5G technology.

In an open letter published on Monday, Victor Zhang, the firm’s UK chief, said disrupting Huawei’s participation would do the country a “disservice”.

It comes amid efforts by rebel Tory MPs to overturn the government’s approval in January of a limited role for Huawei in building Britain’s 5G infrastructure.

“We have built trust in our UK business over 20 years by helping our customers – the mobile network operators – provide consumers with affordable, reliable calls and data,” Mr Zhang writes.

“Despite this, there has been groundless criticism from some about Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G rollout. And there are those who choose to continue to attack us without presenting any evidence.

“Disrupting our involvement in the 5G rollout would do Britain a disservice.”

Last month, the government hinted at future concessions to opponents of Huawei’s involvement in rolling out the ultrafast wireless technology when a minister said 36 Tory MPs who refused to vote in line with the leadership had been heard “loud and clear”.

The rebels fear Huawei is effectively a front for the Chinese state – putting the UK’s security at risk – and want it ripped out of the 5G network by the end of 2022.

But in his letter, Mr Zhang highlighted Huawei’s already extensive role in Britain’s data network, and said the firm was “focused on keeping Britain connected” during the “unprecedented” coronavirus pandemic.

He said data usage had increased by at least 50 per cent since Covid-19 first reached the UK, placing “significant pressure” on telecoms systems.

“That’s why reliable mobile and broadband networks are crucial. During this pandemic our engineers – designated ‘essential’ workers – are striving around the clock to keep Britain connected.”

The intervention comes amid multiple acts of vandalism and arson in recent days against telecoms gear, apparently fuelled by internet conspiracy theories linking the spread of coronavirus to 5G.

The baseless theory, which scientists have branded “complete rubbish”, suggests radio waves from the technology causes changes in people’s bodies which make them susceptible to the virus.

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