By Joel Adams
Mail Online – 24 February 2019
... But consumers who do choose to fork over the price of a second-hand car for the new Chinese phone may be getting more than they bargain for.
The firm [Huawei], which is also involved in the upgrade of the telecoms network itself, is at the centre of a global row about cybersecurity with multiple Western spy chiefs concerned its technology creates a back door allowing the Beijing regime to listen in on Western conversations.
Senior MPs have called for Britain to ban Huawei from working on the 5G mobile internet upgrade completely. Conservative MPs Julian Lewis and Bob Seely urged the government to follow the UK's 'Five Eyes' intelligence partners Australia and New Zealand and stop the firm from working on critical infrastructure projects.
Dr Lewis told Mail Online:
'What we have to remember is despite their protestations of independence, there is no such thing as an independent enterprise under a Communist regime.
'And until such time as China ceases to be a dictatorship of the Communist party in China then there can be no meaningful claim to independence by enterprises. We should definitely follow Australia's and New Zealand's example.'
And Mr Seely, a Tory MP and defence expert, warned China may be able to discover the UK's vulnerabilities if its firms are given the crucial contracts.
Their intervention came after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said he had 'grave concerns' about Huawei. Mr Williamson said:
'I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It's something we'd have to look at very closely. We've got to look at what partners such as Australia and the US are doing in order to ensure that they have the maximum security of that 5G network and we've got to recognise the fact, as has been recently exposed, the Chinese state does sometimes act in a malign way.'
Only last month Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the cyber arm of the UK's electronic surveillance organisation, , GCHQ, said Huawei still has not produced a 'credible plan' to address security concerns. He said:
'Last year we said we found some worrying engineering and security issues. As of today, we have not seen a credible plan. That's the reality of the situation unfortunately.'
And Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said he had separate concerns that the company fell short on security standards for its product, regardless of any possible link to Chinese spying.
Huawei phones are currently banned in the US, which considers the Chinese giant's technology a security threat, and only last August President Trump signed into law a bill reaffirming the embargo. The cloud over Huawei also includes U.S. criminal charges filed last month against the company and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who U.S. prosecutors want to extradite from Canada. They accuse her of fraud and say the company stole trade secrets, including technology that mobile carrier T-Mobile used to test smartphones.
But in what may be a signal of a forthcoming policy shift, the president tweeted on Thursday that he wants the U.S. 'to win through competition' rather than by blocking out technologies which are currently more advanced. Allowing Huawei's mobile phone equipment back into U.S. markets could be a carrot for Beijing as Trump's negotiators hash out a new trade framework with the world's second largest economy. Huawei Technologies is trying to raise its profile in the fiercely competitive smartphone market. Almost everyone with a smartphone has heard of Apple and Samsung, the top device makers, and Google, the creator of the software on Android phones.
Huawei, a Chinese company with a name many people in the West don't know how to pronounce ('HWA-way'), is jockeying for a seat at the top table. Last year it was third in global smartphone sales, behind Apple and Sansung in pole position. Huawei is making its push at a time that both Samsung and Apple are struggling with declining smartphone sales amid a lull in industry innovation that is causing more consumers to hold on to the devices until they wear out instead of upgrading to the latest model as quickly as they once did.
It remains to be seen whether Britain's savvy consumers will decide £2,000 – plus the risk of their private conversations being overheard by Chinese spies in windowless Beijing listening posts – is a price worth paying for the latest shiny tech toy.