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New Huawei office boosts UK growth

By Angus McNeice in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-10-11 18:38
Huawei logos at an exhibition stand in Nanjing, Jiangsu province on Sept 1, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Huawei has opened a new office in Greater Manchester, drawing praise from local officials who say the Chinese telecommunications company will provide a major boost to the tech economy in the North of England.

The office is Huawei's first in the region, and will house several business operations including customer account teams, a network design center and a delivery operations center.

The company has hired 50 employees at the new facility, and another 50 will join by 2022.

The office is located around 5 kilometers from Manchester city center, at the MediaCityUK complex in Salford. The complex houses the studios of several major British media companies including the BBC.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said Huawei's presence in the region will drive economic growth and help local businesses transition to 5G, which is the fifth generation of network technology.

"Next generation technology alongside 5G will have a massive impact on our city over the next decade, it is therefore vital that we continue to attract top tech talent to the city,"said Dennett.

Huawei's move into Manchester is a noteworthy development for the Northern Powerhouse initiative, which was started under former prime minister David Cameron and championed by former chancellor George Osborne.

The initiative aims to decentralize economic power from London and reinvigorate the North. Osborne identified China as the largest potential source of foreign funding for the Northern Powerhouse, and in 2017 former chancellor Philip Hammond presented a portfolio of 13 northern projects worth 5 billion pounds ($6.1 billion) to a number of Chinese investors.

The majority of recent Chinese activity in the region has involved construction projects. Beijing Construction Engineering Group has invested in the expansion of Manchester Airport and was appointed contractor for a rented home development in Salford.

With the addition of Huawei, which is one of the largest technology companies in the world, the region's digital economy will now get a shot in the arm from a Chinese player.

"The arrival of Huawei who are a key (5G] player further cements this city and Salford in particular as the emerging tech hotspot in the UK," said Dennett.

Huawei UK chief executive, Wang Shengniu, said that the office represents Huawei's continued commitment to the United Kingdom.

"We are delighted to announce our first facility in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse and birthplace of the first industrial revolution," said Wang. "The city is now at the forefront of healthcare and university tech-led innovations today."

Huawei employs around 1,400 people in the UK across 15 offices and the company provides support and equipment to several major British network operators. But a United States-led boycott of Huawei has the potential to impact these business partnerships.

The UK government is considering a full or partial restriction on Huawei equipment following pressure from US President Donald Trump's administration, which claims the Chinese telecom giant poses a cybersecurity threat.

At a conference in London on Tuesday, John Sawers, former chief of UK intelligence agency MI6, said there was no evidence to support the US claims, and that China has not "sought to exploit, or been able to exploit, Huawei equipment in our telecoms national infrastructure" for the purposes of espionage.

Sawers said that Huawei is being used as a "point of leverage" in President Trump's trade dispute with China.

This week, Philip Jansen, head of network provider BT, warned that the removal of Huawei kit from British infrastructure would be a disruptive and arduous undertaking.

"It would take seven years to completely remove Huawei from UK networks," Jansen said, according to the Press Association.

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