Chinese telecoms giant Huawei should be excluded from bidding for the next generation of 5G mobile technology contracts, according to a report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a defence and security think tank.
Former British diplomat, Charles Parton, warned in the report against Beijing’s “rigorous, ruthless advancement of China’s interests”.
“Allowing Huawei’s participation is at best naive, at worst irresponsible,” Parton wrote, citing China’s history of cyberattacks as an integral part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s interference in other countries.
“The history of China’s cyberattacks shows that an integral part of CCP interference abroad is getting access to a wide variety of information, whether related to industry, commerce, technology, defence, personal details or politics,” Parton wrote.
“5G will be crucial to the future functioning not just of [critical national infrastructure], but to many processes which will be reliant on the Internet of Things,” he said.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Parton’s report was published just one day after Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said that any security threat arising from the use of Huawei equipment could be contained.
But Parton cited experts as saying that such claims were unlikely to be true.
“It is far easier to place a hidden backdoor inside a system than it is to find one,” the report said, adding that many applications used by Huawei have more than a million lines of code.
The RUSI report also called for further research into the activities of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) on British soil.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sees controlling the narrative about China abroad as important for reinforcing its legitimacy and justifying its monopoly on domestic power,” Parton wrote. “It is also important for advancing its geopolitical aims.”
He cited the example of the University of Nottingham, where “pressure has … been applied to academics … to stand down or avoid inviting certain external speakers because they and/or their chosen subjects were deemed too sensitive.”
China’s attempts to control the narrative about China via its officially backed Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) and Confucius Institutes embedded on university campuses could also be problematic for freedom of speech, Parton said.