British security chiefs have given their consent to plans to allow Huawei to provide “non-core” parts for 5G infrastructure despite pressure from the United States, the Daily Mail reports.
The newspaper has quoted a senior security source as saying that “the balance between national security and the economic benefit to the UK is something we are confident we can manage”.
In an unprecedented leak from the National Security Council last April, it emerged that Huawei would be allowed to provide gear for less sensitive parts of the upcoming 5G networks, such as antennae, but would be excluded from “core” infrastructure.
The UK has postponed its decision on the matter twice since then; both the National Security Council and Parliament are expected to discuss it next month. There hasn’t been official confirmation from the government yet.
The United States has for over a year now pressured the UK, along with other allies, to shut Huawei out of 5G networks over espionage fears. The American intelligence community believes that the firm could steal sensitive data from rival nations and hand it over to the Chinese government.
Huawei insists that it is independent from the government, although it admits receiving some “policy support”. The company has said it is willing to sign “no-spy” agreements with foreign nations to quell any concerns.
Still, several countries, including the US, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, have blocked the Chinese tech giant from their 5G networks. Others, including Germany and France, have refused to follow the ban, while Canada is looking into whether ban the firm.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to make his opinion about Huawei known, but his latest statement on the matter likely didn’t give it much optimism.
Speaking at a meeting of NATO leaders this month, Johnson said that “we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests nor can we prejudice our ability to cooperate with other Five Eyes security partners. That will be the key criterion that informs our decision about Huawei".
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre – part of the eavesdropping agency GCHQ – concluded earlier this year that any risk posed by Huawei’s role in UK telecoms projects, including 5G build-up, can be managed.