A file photo shows Huawei's rotating chair Sun Yafang with UK Prime Minister Theresa May in February 2018, after the company announced a £3 billion UK procurement plan that month. Photo: Handout

British Prime Minister Theresa May has reportedly given the go-head to Huawei to bid for the construction of the UK’s 5G network, after May made the decision “despite warnings from the US and some of her most senior ministers that [using Huawei equipment] could pose a long-term, systemic risk to national security”.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the British National Security Council, chaired by the prime minister, agreed to allow Huawei “limited access” to help build parts of the nation’s network infrastructure such as antennas and other “noncore” elements.

Several cabinet ministers including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt raised concerns during the meeting, arguing instead for a total ban on everything from the Chinese tech behemoth, according to The Guardian.

Jeremy Fleming, director of Government Communications Headquarters, an intelligence and security organ providing signals intelligence and information assurance to the British government and armed forces, also argued last month that the UK needed to understand “the opportunities and threats posed” by Chinese technology. Fleming has also pledged that warnings about any cyberattack from China or Russia will be shared in a matter of seconds with corporations and public organizations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (center) tours Huawei’s research centre in London during his visit to the UK in October 2015. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is seen on the left. Photo: Xinhua

In a bid to allay misgivings, Huawei earlier volunteered to share the source codes of its equipment’s software with the UK’s National Cyber Security Center, and the latter found “significant technical issues” in Huawei’s software engineering that could create risks. However they stated that none of these issues was a result of “Chinese state interference” and that the company’s efforts to address issues would generally be successful.

Meanwhile, the Shenzhen-based company enjoying market dominance in global 5G technology and equipment supply said last week that it already had “40 contracts in hand” to build and operate 5G networks in foreign countries. Huawei’s still buoyant business – its revenue topped 179.7 billion yuan (US$26.81 billion) during the first quarter of this year – defies Washington’s boycott and its attempts to get the UK to impose a blanket ban on the equipment from the Chinese maker.

Huawei’s chief representative to the European Union said in March that the company understood the cybersecurity concerns that European regulators had and would continue working with all regulators and partners to make the 5G rollout across Europe a success.

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