Earlier this year, the UK agreed to allow Huawei to have a “limited role” in the roll-out of 5G networks across the country, but it was met with a barrage of criticism from Conservative MPs, who asked for a “meaningful debate” in Parliament over Huawei’s involvement in 5G.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show in February, former Brexit minister David Davis warned that Huawei’s involvement could “cause mayhem, seizing control of, say, dams, air traffic control and electricity generators”, or even bring down internet access. He warned the damage could range from traffic jams to "mass fatalities”.
“We’re handing the keys to large parts of the country over to China,” Davis said. “5G in the future is going to be everything. It’s going to be from traffic light controls to your medical records. From your telephone and your video, right through to the operation of the infrastructures, water and electricity. Now that is going to be completely throughout our society.”
Huawei's open letter to the UK
Now, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith is leading a rebellion over Huawei’s involvement, with commentators saying that it would be unlikely to get a majority of support within the house.
“I think the mood in the parliamentary party has hardened,” Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a recent interview. “And I think it’s a shared realization of what it means for dependence on a business that is part of a state that does not share our values. That has become clearer.”
Against this backdrop, Huawei has now stepped up its PR campaign within the UK, today taking out three full-page adverts in the Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Daily Mirror. We have reproduced the letter in full below:
Our commitment to you
Keeping in contact with friends, loved ones and colleagues shouldn't be hard. That's why we're making it easier to stay in touch.
For nearly 20 years, we've supplied the UK's mobile and broadband companies with 3G and 4G. But some now question our role in helping Britain lead the way in 5G.
We want you to know we are as committed as ever to providing your network operator with the best equipment so you can share photos, stream movies, get together online and much more. While many in cities have fast, reliable connections, others are not so lucky. We know a poor connection makes working from home, or running a small business, harder than it should be.
New 5G and full-fibre broadband networks will fix these problems and we're working to bring high speed connections to every part of the country.
We're also playing our part in creating jobs, training the engineers of tomorrow, investing in new technology and supporting universities. We're here to help you enjoy better, faster connections - quickly, affordably and securely.
That's our commitment to you.
This increasing pressure from Huawei will put a renewed focus on the company’s role in the UK’s 5G infrastructure. And as Chinese technology comes under increasing scrutiny, it’s hard to see how growing unease in the Tory rank and file will sit with Boris Johnson’s previous statement that Huawei could supply up to 35% of the country’s 5G hardware.