Data Driven Futures

Huawei offers to sign ‘no-spy’ agreements

Written by Hannah McGrath

Huawei has offered to sign “no-spy” agreements with governments, the company’s chairman has said, as the Chinese telecoms giant steps up reassurances over its equipment being used for intelligence gathering by Beijing.

Speaking at a conference in London yesterday via an interpreter, Liang Hua sought to underline Huawei’s commitment to national security through its involvement in 5G networks, after it was reported that the UK government will allow Huawei to provide ‘non core’ elements of its network.

"We are willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments, including the UK government, to commit ourselves to making our equipment meet the no-spy, no-backdoors standard,” Liang said in comments reported by the BBC.

His assurances came after the firm’s European chief told Western governments stated yesterday that Huawei is a private company and would refuse to comply with any request from the Chinese government to hand over security information.

The US government has banned its agencies from using Huawei equipment and has called on its allies to boycott the company from supplying hardware for 5G networks. Huawei has vigorously denied allegations that its products could be used to create back doors for surveillance by the Chinese government.

The Chinese telecoms giant has commissioned a report from Oxford Economics to assess its contribution to the UK’s telecoms and technology industries, finding that Huawei supported 26,200 jobs across the UK in 2018, with an estimated tax contribution to the exchequer of £470 million.

Huawei has been the subject of mounting calls, led by the US government, to offer reassurances that its 5G network hardware will not open up backdoors to enable surveillance of sensitive communications networks by the Chinese government.

The concerns centre around Article 77 of Chinese national security legislation introduced in 2017, which sets out an obligation on organisations and individuals to provide assistance with work relating to state security.