By Patrick Brogan
In an almost follow-up to our article yesterday about China strengthening ties with Latin America, Chinese company Huawei has signed a deal with America’s greatest ally, Britain. The Chinese firm has agreed to spent roughly €3.4 billion on procurement in the British markets. This comes after Theresa May’s visit to China last year which was an effort to increase trade between the two nations.
Britain is happy about the deal as it looks towards markets outside of Europe when it leaves the EU in the Spring of next year. Huawei promised the UK it would spent €1.47 billion on procurement in the period of 2013 to 2017. They already employ 1,500 people in the UK and currently provides broadband equipment to BT and Vodafone.
However, there is reason to be wary of the Chinese technology giant. The Americans have a de facto ban on the company as they feel that if they allow them into the US markets they will pass on sensitive data back to the Chinese Government. And there might be an element of truth in this theory.
The company that employs 150,000 people is something of a mystery. When Major Ren Zhengfei was let go by the Chinese army he decided to put his military links and technical knowledge to good use. He created Huawei. Huawei say they are an employee-owned collective, but many doubt this and the structure and management of the company are still opaque. And the links to official China have continued as Huawei is one of the few private companies that receives state funding. What does the Chinese Government get in return?
Former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden believes it is information. Allowing Huawei, which means Chinese Achievement, into the US would allow sensitive data belonging to citizens and companies find its way back to the powers that be in Beijing. An Intelligence Committee was set-up to look into Huawei espionage and although it could find no evidence of this, it retained suspicions. Also, Australia and Canada are deeply hesitant to give Huawei free rein in their markets. More about this can be read here and more on Chinese cyberwar here.
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