Business / Companies

UK panel probes Huawei

By Diao Ying in London (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-12 23:36

The United States congressional report against two leading Chinese telecom companies is having a ripple effect worldwide.

On Friday, a United Kingdom Parliament committee said that it is investigating Huawei's business in the UK after governments from Australia and Canada also expressed concerns this week.

The UK Parliament's intelligence and security committee is investigating the relationship between Huawei and the BT Group Plc, the London-based telecommunications giant. Huawei supplies telecom equipment to BT, the Guardian and Reuters reported on Friday.

The committee is "reviewing the whole presence of Huawei in regard to (the country's) critical national infrastructure and whether that should give rise for concern", the Guardian reported, citing the committee's chairman, Malcolm Rifkind.

The investigation is unlikely to have any immediate impact on Huawei's business in the UK.

Ofcom, the UK's telecommunications regulator, declined to comment on the investigation.

In a statement e-mailed to China Daily on Friday, BT said there is no need to change its relation with Huawei despite the increased scrutiny.

"We work closely with Huawei on commercial security best practice, and our relationship with Huawei is managed strictly in accordance with UK laws," the company said in the e-mailed statement.

"BT takes a risk-management approach on the use of components from Huawei and, like the UK government, we see no need to change our position following the US report," it said.

BT said there is a diverse range of cyberthreats to consider as the telecom industry is getting more global, and that it works closely with suppliers and regulators to ensure the networks are safe.

"BT's network is underpinned by robust security controls and built-in resilience," it said, "We always work closely with each of our suppliers — and government where appropriate — to gain assurance through rigorous review that the security of the network is not compromised."

Huawei has always faced questions regarding its background because its founder, Ren Zhengfei, once worked for the Chinese military.

The company's business in the UK is going well so far. It has 650 employees working in the country, and it aims to increase its workforce to 1,000 over the next three years. Apart from BT, it also sells networking equipment and software to other big telecom companies such as Virgin Media.

It also runs a research-and-development center in eastern England. David Cameron, the UK's prime minister, met Ren during his visit in September. At the time, Huawei said it would invest more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) and create 500 jobs in the country.

ZTE, a smaller Chinese telecom company, is also active in Europe. It works with local telecom companies to build broadband networks in Germany and Sweden, and supplies 3G and 4G equipments to telecoms in Portugal.

In reply to media reports indicating that some European countries may follow the US' move, David Dai, spokesman for ZTE, said that European governments have been more open-minded than the US in general.

European governments have different opinions about these companies, and the market situation in each country inside the European Union is different, he said.

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