Huawei willing to ink no-spy telecoms equipment pacts

LONDON • Huawei is willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments, including Britain, the Chinese firm's chairman has said, amid United States pressure on European countries to shun the firm over espionage concerns.

"We are willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments, including the UK government, to commit ourselves to making our equipment meet the no-spy, no-backdoors standard," Huawei chairman Liang Hua told reporters in London on Tuesday via an interpreter.

Britain is deciding the extent to which it will allow Huawei, the world's biggest supplier of telecoms equipment, to participate in building its 5G networks.

Washington has told allies not to use Huawei's technology to build new 5G networks over worries it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying, a claim the firm has denied.

"The security and resilience of the United Kingdom's telecoms networks is of paramount importance, and we have strict controls for how Huawei equipment is currently deployed in the UK," a British government spokesman said on Tuesday. The results of the telecoms supply chain review affecting Huawei's case would be announced soon and all network operators would need to comply by the decision, he added.

Prime Minister Theresa May sacked her defence minister Gavin Williamson this month over leaked claims that Huawei would have a role in the 5G network, putting Britain at odds with its biggest intelligence ally, the US.

Mr Liang, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Huawei's British technology partners, said the firm never intended to be in the eye of a political storm. "The cyber security issue is not exclusive to just one single supplier or one single company. It is a common challenge facing the entire industry and the entire world," he said.

He said Huawei had long cooperated with Britain's National Cyber Security Centre's oversight of its technology, and it had improved its software engineering capabilities to make them the equal of competitors. Huawei did not act on behalf of China's government in any international market, he said.

"Despite the fact Huawei has its headquarters in China, we are actually a globally operating company. Where we are operating globally, we are committed to be compliant with the locally applicable laws and regulations in that country. There are no Chinese laws requiring companies to collect intelligence from a foreign government or implant back doors for the government."

British minister Jeremy Wright, who will announce the findings of the telecoms supply-chain review, had said the benefits of cheap kit would not trump security concerns.

Mr Liang, however, said economic factors should be part of the decision, and politics should be taken out of it.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline 'Huawei willing to ink no-spy telecoms equipment pacts'. Print Edition | Subscribe