Security Minister Ben Wallace has suggested Huawei be given a “fair” chance for access to UK 5G networks.
The huge row over the Chinese giant has already claimed the scalp of former defence secretary Gavin Williamson, accused of leaking details about how Huawei could be given non-core contracts.
President Donald Trump is expected to demand the UK Government slam the doors in a meeting at Downing Street on Tuesday, following his national security adviser John Bolton reiterating the “zero risk” US stance.
But Mr Wallace implied a softer approach would take into account the “British sense of fair play” when he spoke on the Today programme, although he insisted no decision had yet been made.
He said: “Alongside the technical questions is obviously the question of behaviour of a number of states.
“We’re British – we believe in fair play – and I think if we want to allow people access to our markets we have to say there are rules … Not using the espionage to steal our intellectual property.
“How do we maintain a level playing field and fair play that allows foreign investment, foreign access to our markets, and vice versa, but people don’t exploit that goodwill to steal and cheat?”
Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry defended Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from accusations of hypocrisy for attending a state banquet for the Chinese president but snubbing the banquet for Mr Trump on Monday night.
Ms Thornberry told the Today programme the Chinese visit was “different” from Mr Trump’s because of the so-called special relationship.
She said: “When you have a close friend and they’re going wrong, you are more likely to be adamant with them and clearer with them than someone who has not been as close a friend and someone you are trying to build a relationship up with.”
Ms Thornberry added Mr Trump does not “deserve the honour” of a state visit, labelling him “a sexual predator” and “a racist”.
She said: “A state visit is an honour and we don’t think this president deserves an honour.
“The truth is he has tried to close borders with Muslim-majority countries, he is caging small Mexican children, he has grabbed women and boasted about it.
“He is a sexual predator, he is a racist and it’s right to say that – we need to think about when is it our country got so scared?”
The Labour MP said Mr Trump needed to be stood up to “like the way you deal with a bully” because “if you bow down in front of them you just get kicked harder”.