Britain's spy chief warns of threat from Chinese tech companies

Mr Jeremy Fleming clarified that no decisions have been taken on Chinese tech giant Huawei's potential involvement in Britain's 5G network.
Mr Jeremy Fleming clarified that no decisions have been taken on Chinese tech giant Huawei's potential involvement in Britain's 5G network.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (DPA) - The head of British intelligence unit GCHQ on Monday (Feb 25) warned of the risks associated with letting Chinese tech companies become involved in his country's telecoms network.

"We have to understand the opportunities and threats from China's technological offer," Mr Jeremy Fleming said in rare public remarks delivered to government, military and industry figures in Singapore as reported by the Press Association.

"Understand the global nature of supply chains and service provision irrespective of the flag of the supplier," Mr Fleming said. "Take a clear view on the implications of China's technological acquisition strategy in the West."

The GCHQ boss clarified that no decisions have been taken on Chinese tech giant Huawei's potential involvement in Britain's 5G network.

A government review ruling whether telecom companies can use the company's technology for the new network is due in March or April.

"GCHQ is at the heart of the policy consideration under way and we already have a role managing Huawei's presence in our existing networks," Mr Fleming said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last Thursday that Washington would not be able to share information with countries that integrate Huawei's technology into their critical information systems.

The US has been considering a ban on Huawei and is encouraging its allies to sever their own ties to the company, pointing to its close relationship with the Chinese government.

Last Monday, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told the BBC that his company "won't withdraw our investment (in Britain) because of this".

"We still trust in the UK, and we hope that the UK will trust us even more," Mr Ren told the BBC.