China accused of targeting high-profile Britons to back Huawei

China has been accused of trying to persuade influential individuals to support Huawei’s integration into the UK’s 5G network.

A controversial dossier – reportedly compiled with the help of former MI6 spy Christopher Steele – claims high-profile people were targeted to act as “useful idiots” for Beijing.

The Daily Mail reported that the 86-page document said politicians and academics were among those in the UK whose backing China sought to secure.

Huawei was said to be described as “Beijing’s strategic asset” in the report.

A spokesman for the Chinese telecoms giant described the allegations as “unfounded”, and said they were part of a “long-running US campaign” against the company.

The spokesman said: “We categorically refute these unfounded allegations, which do not bear scrutiny and are regrettably the latest in the long-running US campaign against Huawei.

“They are designed to deliver maximum reputational damage to our business and have no basis in fact.”

It comes amid intense pressure on Boris Johnson from his own backbenches to halt Huawei’s involvement over concerns that it presents a security risk.

The Prime Minister’s move to allow the company a role set the Government at odds with the US, which had repeatedly warned against the firm amid clashes with China.

Coronavirus – Wed Jun 3, 2020
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Monday that US sanctions on Huawei are likely to have a “significant impact” on the firm’s ability to play a role in the UK’s 5G network.

He said he had received a National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) report on the Chinese technology firm and will be discussing it with Mr Johnson.

China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, later sought to dismiss fears that Huawei’s involvement allows the Chinese state a backdoor access into mobile networks.

During an online press conference, he also accused some British politicians of regarding China as a “threat” or a “hostile country”.

“We want to be your friend, we want to be your partner, but if you want to make China a hostile country you have to bear the consequences,” he said.

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