Huawei Technologies has appointed Sir Michael Rake, former president of the Confederation of British Industry and former chairman of BT group, as a board member, it was announced on Tuesday.
Sir Michael, who is also senior business advisor at Chatham House and chairman of the Advisory Council for Better Business, will work with non-executive directors of the board, including Lord Brown of Madingley, Sir Kenneth Olisa and Sir Andrew Cahn, among others.
Huawei will commit to "openness and transparency", the spokesperson wrote, adding that such directors were responsible for reviewing Huawei's performance in the UK and providing counsel to the Huawei Management Team, amid other obligations.
— Declan Ganley (@declanganley) April 14, 2020
Speaking on his appointment, Sir Michael said that the importance of good communication infrastructure had "never been more vital" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding he had seen "first-hand" knowledge of how Huawei worked with UK operators to roll out broadband, 3G and 4G.
He added: "We are all getting used to working and communicating in different ways in these difficult times and I am passionate about making sure everyone can get affordable, reliable and quick connections at home and at work. Huawei and its world leading technology is vital to that".
Independent non-executive chairman for Huawei UK, Lord Brown of Madingley, said that he was pleased that Sir Michael had been appointed to the UK board.
"The current global crisis has demonstrated the importance of world-leading connectivity. Technology and innovation are critical to economic development, and I look forward to working with Sir Michael to support Huawei’s contribution to the UK".
Victor Zhang, vice-president of Huawei, said that Sir Michael brings a "wealth of relevant experience" to the boardroom as the company entered the "next phase" of its partnership with the UK.
"We’re working round the clock to keep the UK connected through the current crisis and bring affordable, reliable 5G to every corner of the country – so millions more can benefit from fast digital connections. I am delighted Sir Michael has agreed to join the board and help us continue this important journey", Mr Zhang continued.
— HuaweiUK (@HuaweiUK) April 13, 2020
The news comes after Mr Zhang said in an open letter on Sunday seen by Sputnik that Huawei had been building trust in UK firms for over 20 years but faced "groundless criticism" about the company's involvement in Britain's 5G roll out "without presenting any evidence".
He said: "Disrupting our involvement in the 5G rollout would do Britain a disservice. In my experience the UK has always chosen to work together with the frontrunners in any field, whether they come from the US, China or Europe. Huawei’s technology is among most advanced in this field and we want to use it to bring people together wherever they are and whoever they are".
He added: "Right now, by keeping Britain online, we are able to play our part in helping the country through this difficult period. I sincerely hope you and your families keep safe and well. It is only by working together that we can overcome this global pandemic.
Huawei also reported a 19.1 increase in year-on-year revenues in March despite the US trade war on China, where Trump administration accused Huawei of spying for the Chinese government and placed the firm on an Entity's List in May last year, blocking trade with US tech companies.
Both Huawei and Beijing have repeatedly and strongly denied the accusations and demanded US authorities to show proof backing the claims. UK prime minister Boris Johnson also allowed Huawei to build national IT infrastructure, capping total sales at 35 percent of UK markets, which sparked backlash from 38 rebel Tory ministers who tabled a measure to phase out Huawei's involvement in British 5G networks by 2021.
But Commons voted down the measure 206 to 282, and Downing Street has proceeded with its partnership with Huawei despite US authorities urging the UK to reconsider.