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Author Topic: Huawei has a new British problem  (Read 143 times)
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« on: April 15, 2020, 10:55:54 PM »

China fears that once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, Britain will reconsider allowing Huawei to help operate its 5G telecommunications network.

The top line: Huawei's access is crucial for China's influence and its ability to conduct espionage. But Beijing's coronavirus lies have fueled British concerns about entrusting Huawei with critical infrastructure.

Which explains, then, why Huawei's vice president, Victor Zhang, has just published an open letter urging Britain to stick by its original decision. Fittingly, Zhang's opening and closing sentences carry the Chinese government's favorite propaganda line of the moment: that it is "only by working together" that we can beat the coronavirus.

Of course, the "working together" narrative isn't actually about encouraging global cooperation, but rather about discouraging any criticism of China as some kind of attack on humanity. Zhang also laments the "groundless criticism from some about Huawei’s involvement in the U.K.’s 5G rollout ... without presenting any evidence."

Seeing as how Huawei is a corporate agent of the Chinese Communist Party, and that its software is designed to provide deniable signal intercept-interact capabilities, Zhang's lamentations ring somewhat hollow here. Regardless, the Huawei executive has good reason to be concerned.

In January, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government authorized Huawei to build out noncritical areas of Britain's 5G network. That decision reflected a U.K. Joint Intelligence Committee assessment that limited Huawei 5G access was compatible with British security. But according to The Guardian, the U.K. intelligence community is now pushing for increased restrictions on Chinese access to cutting edge research.

That reporting is correct, but here's a little more context.

First, China's deception over the original coronavirus outbreak in Hubei province isn't the key motive for the shifting U.K. attitude here. Instead, this harder line reflects Joint Intelligence Committee assessments (supported by U.S. intelligence sharing) that Chinese intellectual property theft poses an increasingly unacceptable threat to priority British security and economic interests. This is largely down to Chinese cyber-espionage activities and the deployment of Chinese Ministry of State Security and People's Liberation Army intelligence officers and agents to infiltrate British companies and research institutions.

That said, Britain's intelligence community, its Government Communications Headquarters signals service aside, continues to believe that British interests can be served by allowing Huawei some access, which will help the economy with lower 5G costs and expanded 5G access.

So, what's Huawei's problem?

Beijing's coronavirus deception campaign has rocked the Conservative Party. Johnson's original authorization to Huawei met a significant backbench rebellion, including by his leadership campaign chief and former Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith. Those parliamentarians adopted the American view that Huawei is an intelligence cutout of the Chinese state and cannot be trusted with any access. And thanks to China's lies, those rebels are now being joined by other Conservative parliamentarians, who also see Huawei as too great a risk.

Huawei has previously used a massive marketing campaign to insulate itself against this government pressure. But that's far less feasible today. Thanks to the coronavirus, China's deceptions now aggravate everyday British citizens as much as they do government ministers.

So yes, Huawei is right to panic.


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